Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wedding Planning Blues

Possible centerpiece courtesy of KW--made from garden flowers and mason jars she owns

I couldn't be happier that Brenna and Matt are going to be married and live together forever. I'm happy I have a daughter who hates the excesses of the wedding industry as much as I do. But I am finding that planning a wedding is often frustrating. There are disappointments when the caterer we've grown to love in negotiations isn't an option, or when I found out how much photographers cost. We have to go down quite a few dead ends to find what's really going to work well. Brenna's made so many wise decisions: her dress is being made in El Salvador, and is beautiful. A friend is drawing her invitations. We remembered we know people who have a fun band, and they are willing to play at the reception. The venue is at our family ranch, a place filled with history and meaning. Matt's friend is the photographer. Paul Dugan, the pastor performing the ceremony thinks Brenna and Matt are amazing, and their marriage mentors, the Tapias are going to be great role models. 

But there are trying times. I have spent hours and hours trying to find a dress to wear. I finally told the mother of the groom to go ahead and buy hers, because this might take awhile, and she shouldn't have to wait. It's fun to shop for a new dress for about a half an hour. Then the novelty wears off. 

My heart hurts when Brenna experiences a new disappointment. None of us want our children unhappy. I've taught my girls to reach for their dreams, but sometimes dreams need to be downgraded or delayed. And that's painful. What she wants is reasonable: a beautiful setting, good food (not from a chain restaurant), dancing, and good pictures to remember it by. Some days I want to throw money at her so she can have everything she wants. Other days I'm outraged that the wedding costs more than a new well with clean water would cost for a whole village. 

Most of the time Brenna and I are on the same page. My hope is that I can learn quickly how to be a great support to her, even though I lack ability at both planning parties and at spending money. As long as we're closer after this process than before, I'm happy. Regardless of how the wedding turns out, the marriage promises to be a beautiful one. 

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was a week ago, and although I'm not a busy mom with three preschool kids anymore, I still haven't had time to write until now! Although it was sad not having my own mom and dad to celebrate with us I had a really good day. Molly came home on the train and I  loved having her here. She and Jim fixed an amazing salmon dinner. It was especially impressive that they prepared it by themselves in less than 45 minutes!  Kelly called and left a sweet message on my phone. Matt came by for tea. Brenna Skyped with us while  he was here. It was almost like having her here with us as she could join in the conversation from the computer placed on a chair in the circle. Too bad she didn't get to eat any of the Pepperidge Farm cookies! I love having children who don't wake me up at night, don't spit up on me, and don't eat snails and cat food. Yes, ages 19-24 is a good stage. They are doing interesting things with their lives, they share good books they are reading and teach me new technical skills. I'm so proud of all four of them, and especially thankful for the additional child this year: a son!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Smart Aleck

My car in front of our family's ranch house. My grandfather came from Ireland and settled here, buying the house out of the Sears catalogue. 

My life has smoothed out and I am doing well. Now I have time to write a happier post. 

Last November I bought a new car and it has been more fun than any car I've owned. And Lord knows I needed some fun! It's a Smart, named Aleck. I first fell in love with the Smart car when I saw them in Paris years ago. When they came to the USA in January 2008, I wanted one. They get high gas mileage, they are environmentally friendly, (even the paint they use doesn't pollute the air when they spray it, and the dashboard is made out of cornsilk), and they make it easy for even someone as uncoordinated as me to paralell park. When Jim asked if I was actually going to drive it on the freeway, I asked him if his Miata had a four star safety rating like the Smart. (Contrary to appearances, independent sources have rated it a very safe car.) 

You can't be an introvert and drive this car. People smile, wave, point and laugh at me.  Just the other day,  a man in the SUV next to me motioned me to roll down my window, and told me "I feel like I know you because I see you several times a day every day. I love your car!" 

Once, while I was in a drugstore, picking up a prescription, the pharmacist came over to me and said "You're that woman who drives the Smart car!" I wasn't even in my car, and he recognized me  as if I were famous. It happened a different time in the supermarket line. The checker said "Are you the one who owns the Smart car?" After that I decided I better drive carefully and  proficiently. People are watching me all the time. 

People always ask me "How many miles to the gallon does it get?" (40)  or "How much did it cost?" ($13,000) or "Can you drive it on the freeway?" (It's probably safer to drive on the freeway than that car you're driving.) 

I like driving a car that makes people's faces light up when they see it. But what I like best about it: It's impossible to lock your keys in the car. 

In Europe the Smart cars are smaller than  in the States. Mine is the big model, redesigned to include, among other American amenities, cupholders. It was fun to see the different colors and options they have in Europe. About one out of every ten cars I saw in Italy was a Smart. 

Red Smart in Rome

Yellow and Black Smart in Florence
Lime Green Smart in Bologna

Blue Smart like mine in Assisi