Thursday, June 27, 2013. The first photo was taken in the late morning, I think; the second as I left work at 5:00; the third half-way home.
Later, Kate & I went to Appleton for a bite to eat and noticed the drama in the sky as we left the restaurant. We drove north instead of home, seeking higher ground and expansive view -- straight into it, getting our storm-chaser on!
It was pretty amazing, very exciting, and also a little scary as lightning lit the sky and the clouds shifted and changed. Katie was concerned when it looked as though little funnels might be forming; I was concerned when the clouds turned a sickly yellow-green.
We snapped some pictures on our mobile devices, then it started to rain and we drove home in a downpour.
The boys from Brazil arrived late Wednesday. My job was to stop at the store after work to pick up a few things to go with supper, ice cream being one of them... and I forgot it! Luckily, just as we headed out for an after-dinner game of ball tag, we heard the ice cream truck coming down the street!
I can't remember the last time I stood at an ice cream truck window! (Way before 4 treats cost $15.00!!) We sat right down on the grass to slurp, then burned it all off playing tag.
* * * * *
Today marks the first day of... I don't know what you call it: a 5-day weekend or a mini-vacation? Whatever it is, I'll take it!! A couple-few of those days will be free for nothing but me! Meaning, of course, that I'll be cleaning up, organizing, and throwing stuff out of my workroom...
* * * * *
CATALPA TREES & SHARON!
The first time I noticed and learned about a catalpa tree must have been on a Sister Weekend in Milwaukee and from Sharon, because Karen, Annie and I all have a similar response to the catalpa.* Sharon then worked as an arborist for the city and lived across from a park where an enormous catalpa tree grew. There are a few reasons to notice catalpa trees over the course of a year, but they're especially eye-catching when a mature tree is in full bloom -- that one was, and we all noticed!
This one is down a little ways from the coffee shop. I pulled over yesterday morning to snap a pic from the car. There's another across the street and a bit further down. Oh, the sweet scent of those flowers. There used to be a catalpa two doors down from us, but it was sacrificed some years ago for a driveway. I treasure a wooden bowl that was made from the wood of that tree!
Not to be forgotten, there are a couple of volunteer catalpas in the neighbor's yard and in ours that we've spotted over the last several years. The one in our yard is sort of in a silly place, and may cause some retaining wall problems in 100 years. Or maybe not! Maybe that tree will save the retaining wall... lord knows it's not going to make it another 100 years without some help. Anyway, I love that I can see that little tree from the kitchen and the other day I noticed flowers!
It's only a few, but I think it's the first time!
The way the (social) world works these days, when a young knitting friend gives birth at a local birthing center, another friend might just end up clicking around on similar sites and pages. It was on one such page where I found posted a photo of a chalkboard on which the names and dates of recent births at the center were written, among them Alton - 4/29, Esther - 5/2, Harrison - 5/23, Richard - 5/23, and...
SHARON - 6/15**
*I posted that photo on FB and Annie wrote, "Well I think we can take that as a big HELLO! from Sharon!"
**Sharon's birthday! If that isn't a big ol' howdy-do from my late sister, I don't know what is! ~
* * * * *
WRAP IT UP!
Time to get moving! I've a trunk full o' junk to drop off for donation, and sleeping bags ready for the laundromat. I've finished sewing up the sachets and filled them with lavender flowers, and just this morning found the ribbon I've been looking for to finish them off! I am now free to move about the cabin on to other knitting projects!!
I love that smile. I love that I haven't been seeing anything but that smile on her face. So happy.
Honestly, I haven't thought about much beyond June 15th but, well, now I guess I can!
10 More Things:
1. Have a great little visit with the visitors from Brazil (arriving tomorrow)!
2. Clean and clean out my workroom -- a serious paring down and purging -- in preparation for...
3. A remodeling project! Actually, it's more of a restoration project. We'll be installing three french doors in a wall where we knew there once were similar doors (probably three french doors). Originally from a house on our block, we purchased them a few months ago at the local antique mall -- the owner of which also lives on our block. That's keeping it local, folks! Heh. I can't wait.
The back porch has already been painted! Thanks Maddy!
4. As a result of the cleaning, purging and remodeling/restoration, I will likely be rearranging a good deal of our living area. Unless it has a specific and undeniable use -- kitchen, bathroom -- the rooms in our house are always in flux and subject to change. We don't just rearrange the furniture, we rearrange the rooms! We're in serious need right now, too, as some of of them seem more like glorified storage areas with comfortable seating.
5. A rummage sale in August!
Hm, most of this is sounding a lot like work...
6. Day-trips to... Milwaukee and Door County, at least.
8. Enjoy lots of fresh produce from the local markets; I'm especially looking forward to strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, and celery (I hope).
9. Dye! I've some special-order dyeing to do, and some playing around with techniques and ideas that I'd like to do!
10. Relax. And knit. Preferably on the deck, and with a cool beverage at-hand. I finally sewed up some sachets last night -- one-and-a-half to go -- and then I plan to finish Romi's mystery shawl while figuring out what to do next... SO MANY CHOICES right now!
Fiber Rain. The "flowers" decorating the flowerbeds have to be my favorite. It was all taken down over the weekend and I'm sad about that... I think some/much of it should have stayed for the summer -- a month, at least.
Some of my yarn and knitting on display along with the work of Judy Treichel, another local fiber artist for the Art Walk portion of the program.
Up before dawn to deliver Rusty to the airport.
It's actually quite amazing how many farmer market vendors set up in the rain!
Fortunately, the rain passed before long and it turned out to be an okay morning.
Did a lot of shopping with Ali in the afternoon. I tried on more than I have in... maybe ever... but only loved one shirt.
Was happy to find BIG bottles of my favorite coconut water at Target. Also, who knew that I liked sparkling water so much?
Hallelujah! I slept in!!! I can't remember the last morning that I didn't have to be up early and going somewhere.
An enjoyable PJ Morning.
More shopping! This time with Kate! Another shopping trip, another shirt. :)
I haven't knit a stitch in over a week... that's unheard of 'round here! I did weave in some ends last night, though.
A lavender sachet for my sister's birthday! This one is the largest I've knit, using luscious sport-weight alpaca-silk-cashmere leftovers from Romi's Mystery Shawl KAL (I'm on the home stretch with that project). I came close but never had the time to finish the girls' sachets for the wedding, and feel compelled to finish them all before I do anything else! (Gah. Why didn't I knit them all in-the-round, again?)
So that's what I'll be doing to fill any down-time at tomorrow's farmer market! It's the third market of the season, but our first. The weather isn't very promising (thank goodness we don't have a wedding!), so fingers crossed!
It's all kinds crazy around here right now...
I'll be participating in Art On The Town tonight in Downtown Appleton as part of Fiber Rain. I'll be at In Times Past with knits and yarn (some of my knits have been on display there all week).
Rusty has to be at the airport at the butt-crack of dawn tomorrow (guess who gets to take him?) for a trip to Japan with a group of artists.
Annie & her family arrive from Brazil (surprise!) on Wednesday.
My girls leave next Saturday for a sisterly road trip to Glacier National Park -- reminiscent of one I took with mine in '79 to the Oregon coast and back, with stops at Yellowstone & Mount Rushmore. I'm so excited for them!
And Kate is counting down the days, well into double-digits now, until her departure for Edinburgh! We have a day-trip to Milwaukee coming up for Visa application!
I think I've done pretty well at switching gears from work to wedding and back to work without much breathing time in between, but I gotta tell ya, I am so looking forward to Sunday morning!! I have a few other days off coming up and am trying not to fill them up with too terribly much... other than some yarn orders to work on and some prep for a home improvement project, I'd like to just do some sitting and knitting! And maybe some bicycling if it's nice out! And wouldn't it be nice to actually cook something?
We've been pinning to a Pinterest board (I love that. June 15th, 2013), making trips to Sheboygan for dress fittings, folding doilies, drawing maps, making invitations -- all of that & then some -- for months.
Hey, planning (pinning) a wedding is so much fun!
I took photos of Ali+Rod in their back yard in mid-May, when their cherry tree was in full bloom, using the photos and a Shutterfly template to create a guest book for the wedding. There's a book preview here, if you'd like to take a look.
And, for me, that's when the quickening began. Then Ali called and said that she'd been having terrible nightmares about the wedding. She said that everyone had been telling her for so long that it would just happen and it would all work out, but she was dreaming that it was wedding day and nothing was done, there wasn't a plan! We had to get together and plan something!!
The fun & games were truly replaced by work & dread when the calendar flipped from May to June. And by dread, I really mean it... I had to force myself to smile and be excited about this thing that I'd never done before! By June 1st, I just wanted it all to be over!! Cupcake tasting a week before the wedding helped, ever so slightly, to take the edge off; and the wine. :)
* * * * *
On Thursday morning, two days before the wedding, I made the last trip to Sheboygan to pick up the finished dress. The tent was scheduled for delivery and set-up that morning at Rod's parents' farm -- site of the wedding -- and I had some questions about the tent and what we could do, so decided to stop by there on the way.
The sight of that tent as I came up the road, and then down the drive, made me feel... well, as I shared on some other platforms, "Shit's gettin' frickin' real!" I could not believe how beautiful it all looked! And excitement was in the air!!
After a day of driving/pondering, with cars & trailers loaded -- bolts of tulle, strings of lights, tablecloths, a million little things -- and a vague plan in mind for it all, we made our way out later in the day to begin setting up.
It took a village, for sure, but one of the village people stood out from all others. Friend of the groom's family, Pete was the eye of the storm -- the doer, the enabler, the troubleshooter, the rock -- and I don't know what we'd have done without him! He was everywhere, doing anything and everything that was asked of him! Always cheerful, always calm, there wasn't a single moment in four days that I was there and he wasn't. I don't know how many times I hugged and thanked him... I do know it wasn't nearly enough. Every mother-of-the-bride needs a Pete!
My first order of business was tulle and lights. Working from the top-down, Pete climbed the ladder and stapled one end of a bolt of tulle to a post, while I swagged and draped along the perimeter.
I had a plan for the lights, but when we opened the boxes and discovered that what I thought I ordered (pluggable end-to-end) and what I actually ordered (curtain lights... plug at one end only) were two very different things, well, there was a bit of an engineering pow-wow to come up with a new plan! Pete told me what was possible electrically, and we worked it out. I think it turned out even better than the original plan. It helped that those curtain lights were 32' long!
Among other things, Rusty strung clothesline between trees for quilt-hanging. We had about 10 beautiful quilts hung in a couple of locations. After testing, we realized how heavy the quilts were, so old-fashioned props were made from 2x4s to provide extra support! Rusty planned out the photo wall, too, and built/wallpapered a fabulous prop photo wall with empty frames for posing.
A giant puff-ball pom-pom and lantern assembly line appeared on the lawn!
There was only so far we could go on Thursday night, so the rest went back into the trailer.
* * * * *
Hm. I spent a good part of Friday at my computer & printer with programs and whatnot, taking time out for some relaxing fun -- manis and pedis with my girls.
By late afternoon, we were back out at the farm for more decorating!
A little something to eat.
Then it was time for rehearsal!
And more decorating!
Having never decorated even a pup tent before, nor even been in a decorated tent, I don't think we did too bad. The whole far end was filled up by a trailer that served as stage for the band and was Rod's domain, as setting up lights and sound for bands is his business, and that helped to provide some oomph & drama in the lighting department.
* * * * *
The girls all met at my house on Saturday morning and together we headed for the salon for hair & breakfast -- the girls made egg casserole, muffins and brought along champagne!
That's Kate, our favorite stylist among favorites, at Shear Chaos applying Ali's make up. Originally, Ali was going to do her own, but was so happy that she let Kate convince her otherwise -- not only for timing, but also because she didn't have to worry a single second about it all day. She looked as fresh and beautiful at 11 p.m. as she did at 11 a.m., though I imagine a good deal of that was the happy natural glow of love. (Too sappy?) (It's absolutely true, though; she glowed so hard it makes me teary to think of it.)
I had my hair done in the first round so I could dash back home to get ready and then out to the farm to oversee preparations. First, though, I dashed across the street, through the first Downtown Appleton Farm Market of the season, taking note of some lovely yarn bombing along the way, to In Times Past gift shop where a good number of my favorite handknits are on display as part of the Fiber Rain project.
With wedding prep and all, I've had to keep my blinders on about that project, but it was fun to participate in some small way! (Truth be told, while I love to see yarn bombs, I'm not too keen on spending my very limited knitting time making them.)
* * * * *
And then we had a wedding!
Ali could not custom order nicer in-laws! I think Jillian is getting used to us, too, and is a bit more comfortable when we gather-babble.
I took very few pictures, as you might imagine, almost all of them with my phone and likely the lamest of them all. But I had fun!
Cupcakes and cake pops were made by Ali's friend, the adorable Amanda Cupcake, along with a lovely little cake for cutting (possibly with a plastic knife)!
One of the (many) highlights of the evening was when my brother, Michael, joined brothers Rod (groom) and Paul on stage -- bandmates years ago, it was a delightful reunion of their band, the original Bad Haji! Karen's the groupie right by the stage taking photos.
And, hey, speaking of Karen, we threw a helluva birthday party for her on Saturday! The band played Happy Birthday and the crowd sang along. It was sweet.
Have you read Katie's Artsy Abroadpost about the wedding yet? You must -- even just to look at the pictures. She took some fun photos.
* * * * *
HIGHLIGHTS and LOWLIGHTS, depending upon your point of view (heh), and (some borrowed) photos all out of order:
It was a blast helping Katie put together a playlist for the wedding. Originally, we thought it would only be played during breaks in the band, but it turned out gettings LOTS of play and it was so much fun!
Everyone looked so beautiful and/or handsome! There were 7 bridal attendants - Jillian, Katie, Maddy, friends/baristas Abbey, Janel, Kristin, and Noel; and 4 groomsmen - Rod's brothers Paul and Mark, my brother Mike, and friend Jon. Jillian wore a pretty white floral dress; Maddy, Katie and Abbey wore red dresses; Janel, Kristin and Noel wore light blue; they all carried simple white hydrangea bouquets. The boys all wore white shirts, turned up at the cuff, with simple gray vests and daisy boutonnieres.
I want to cry -- tears of happiness and joy -- whenever I think of Alison. She was simply beautiful and radiantly happy, beginning to end. My mom's dress was spectacular on her! We'd been trying to figure out a way to incorporate a "something blue" beaded necklace of Sharon's, a remembrance of her, and it was perfect to finish off the bow on the back of the dress!
It took a little planning to orchestrate Ali's arrival via Model T, which was the mother-of-the-groom's idea and a surprise to almost everyone -- especially to Rodney!
How fast do Model Ts go? We finally realized "not very fast," and had no clue how long it would take to get from our house to the farm! We decided that she'd text me when they were at the end of the road. That's when I'd queue the father-of-the bride, the groom & the bridal party to take position, and then be seated myself.
When the last of the attendants began to make their way up the aisle, I texted her, "NOW!"
Then, I watched. Everyone waited. And wondered. More watching, waiting, wondering... I heard Mom & Joe behind me, Mom asking where Ali'd be coming from, Joe telling her, "Vicki knows. Look how she's looking... watch where Vicki's watching..."
When I saw the Model T, I gave Katie the nod and she started the music.
Alison was breathtaking as Rusty helped her from the car! Beaming smile, gorgeous hair, beautiful dress, red bouquet and shoes. It was a fairly long walk from the drive, through a thicket of trees, and down the aisle to her beloved, and the last note of the song played just as they arrived!!
'Twas a very quick ceremony! It might have been the quickest in the history of ceremonies, except that when Jillian was asked for the rings... which I was given the night before to hold... but never thought about after that...
OMG, I FORGOT TO GIVE PAUL THE RINGS TO GIVE TO JILLIAN!!
Horrified! "They're still in my purse... SHOULD I GO GET THEM?"
What kind of idiotic question was that? I still laugh. I dashed -- honestly a 50-yard dash -- back to the tent to get the rings (in my purse, under a table) -- and while I was there heard a low plane fly overhead and my first thought was, "Oh no, they're not crop-dusting today, are they??" It was a neighbor doing a fly-over tribute in his cute red & white plane (so they say, because I didn't see it)!
So I made it back and, even with the delay, it wasn't long before they were all headed back down the aisle to "Happy Together"!
Ever since Wendy The Bookish Girl told me that "Happy Together" played at their recessional, I've told my girls that they had to, too! I believe it was officially okayed at the last minute, but it was! It did! They listened!!
It was fun to visit with aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. My mom did wonderfully!!
It was a pot-luck wedding (just like Rusty & I had), with a couple of roast pigs and coffee shop sandwiches for the main course. Guests filled out the menu with contributions of favorite hors d'oeuvres and side dishes. Everyone was encouraged to bring a dish and the recipe, an adorable vintage recipe box ready to receive.
* * * * *
So there it is in a very big nutshell! Now that that's out of the way, I'll share Jena's gorgeous photos when they arrive, with permission and with minimal commentary.
I am still recovering. Ali & Rod are off on a little honeymoon in Door County.
There's still a bit of the afterglow...
*Sneak peak of Ali's Mexican Wedding Shawl above! My niece, Jena, was the official wedding photographer and she took some photos of us with our shawls! I am not used to being on this side of the camera... we are all beside ourselves with anticipation for those photos!!
I volunteer for many things at times like these, and when Ali stalled at the hand-sewing (finishing) phase of a project she was working on for her attendants...
With sachet and shawl knitting complete (though will still some finishing to do), I picked up needle and thread last night and made a good run at the finish line -- not quite there yet, but the sewing was a nice change of pace.
I fell a little bit in love with Natalie Chanin after watching her Craftsy class, Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading and Embroidery. I loved listening to her speak so beautifully about sewing, and I learned so much! I smiled every time last night as I cut a length and "loved my thread" before needling it.
I'm looking forward to watching/listening to Natalie again, sometime after June 15th (and again and again and again, as many times as I'd like, because that's how Craftsy works). I have some beautiful fabric and my pattern for the coat featured in the class, but also found some lesser "practice" materials when I recently cleaned out my closet. I feel primed and ready!
The reduction of swelling in my body due to dietary changes has really made a difference and I do not suffer the carpal tunnel problems as much or as readily. I'm sure I wouldn't be quite so excited about hand sewing if pinching a small needle for five minutes resulted in a day of tingling and aching! I did some pretty intense sewing for about 2 hours last night and feel fine today! Woo!
There she is, smack in the middle, flanked by the barista bridesmaids and her two sisters, Maddy and Kate, on the right -- every one of them a bachelorette at the moment.
We had a marvelous little party for Ali, but Katie's presently much better at stringing words together -- along with some lovely photos -- in this post on her blog, Artsy Abroad!
Update: I added one more sachet to the knitting list -- bigger, quicker, finished! Still the blocking and sewing up to do before filling. Sewing still waits, but the ironing is done. I over-dyed and blocked the shawls over the weekend -- am letting them get good and dry before unpinning. So excited!! Rusty finished a project, too, bringing a nice close to a busy and productive weekend. I even squeezed in a pedicure. Ali's dress will likely be picked up on Thursday, leaving only a couple million other little things to do before Saturday...
I'm feelin' 'em. Simply put, and with a few notable exceptions, the first half of 2013 just plain sucked. My mother began treatment for cancer on New Year's Eve and, well, yeah...
She's recovering and getting better, feeling stronger everyday. Yesterday, she had her first PET scan and she is CANCER-FREE!
Now I'm ready for the second half of 2013 and I'm looking for nothing but blue skies!
Who's with me?
P.S. Sachet knitting was finished last night! There's some sewing up to do now before filling, along with some other sewing, and I need to find/buy some ribbon, and there's still some ironing to do, and the over-dyeing/blocking of those shawls, a bachelorette party (with cupcake tasting) to attend, a dress to pick up, and a few million other little things...
I got this! While ice cream is a very infrequent indulgence these days, I have indulged and I definitely have favorites. I love different flavors of ice cream -- Moose Tracks, Coffee -- but if it's a "sundae" or ice cream with toppings (which, in my book, is a "sundae"), it's always the same. Easy peasy!
Good vanilla ice cream with...
1. Hot fudge.
2. Hot fudge.
3. Hot fudge.
4. Hot fudge.
5. Hot fudge.
6. Hot fudge.
7. Hot fudge.
9. Fresh whipped cream.
10. A cherry on top!
You may say I'm stuck in a rut. Maybe so... but I think it's a delicious rut!