Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Small Prayer

Lord, just let me get through the wedding day without a price tag hanging on my dress and toilet paper stuck to my shoes. I don't ask for much. 

Photography Post - Coco- Cola Crates

Old Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper crates stacked up at the city market in Charleston.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A florist, an oyster man, and a seamstress walk into a bar. The florist says to the seamstress . . .

I don't want to hear the rest of this because no doubt it is at my expense. God forbid the pit master, Realtor, or any member of the band happen to be sitting at the bar when the former come in. I can only imagine the hoops and hollers, snickers and snorts. After all, there is little doubt watching me bumble around as mother of the bride has been  most entertaining.

Meanwhile, I cannot get in touch with Mack with a question I have. So I call the caterer and ask her. "Do you know if Mack wants flowers on the bar or not?"  Her answer,"I'm not sure. But, I'm going to see him and the florist tonight. I'll ask them." I should have figured - Mack's our bar tender.

Photography Post - Dock

A dock on Shingle Creek on Edisto Island, South Carolina.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Barbie's Dream Wedding

Next time I find myself as Mother of the Bride, I'm going with Package C, The Standard Outdoor Wedding, (complete with venue, tent, chairs, tables, linens, dance floor, the band and band stage, the caterer, the menu, food tables, bar, bar tenders and bar table with riser, the florist and the flowers, the invitations, stamps and guest list). Package A was The Wedding at the Bride's Home (complete with  three months of therapy for the mother of the bride). Package B was The Traditional. It involved a church and we were considering an outdoor destination wedding.

After all, we wanted a simple destination wedding without frills and hoopla. My daughter had never been into big bows and ribbons, well at least not since she was 8. She was much more tailored. Whenever she saw a wedding dress with a huge skirt and long train, she referred to it as a Cinderella Princess dress. The goal for her wedding was simple and elegant. This suited me fine.

The venue she chose fit this theme well. The beauty of the place alone would overshadow any  gauche decorations some may try to use in making the occasion festive. As our florist said, you just want to enhance the beauty with elegant things that add color and blend in, nothing that calls attention to itself. 

One thing we needed to provide were table linens. When I looked into renting linens I found that not only were they expensive, but most places were going to charge between $125 and $200 to have them delivered. Someone had suggested it may be cheaper to buy them ourselves. So I started looking at websites selling table cloths. I found one where the cloths started at $6. Life was good. 

As I started looking at the choices of table cloths, I found that there were many types and colors. As I went through the choices, I saw that in addition to table cloths there were table runners, chair covers, and chair sashes. I found myself looking at the organza chair sashes. For their price, I thought, we could put a sash with a nice bow on each chair. That would add some color to an otherwise sea of white chairs. This was something I had not considered before.

The more I looked, the more enthused  I got. Then I saw the pictures of table runners. We could add some of those to the tables to add some color to the white cloths. Suddenly, I could see the wedding starting to look a little more dressy and have some color. When I mentioned this to my daughter, her comment was, "Mom, this is beginning to sound like Barbie's Dream Wedding." I realized that she was under a lot of stress at work.

I was very enthusiastic to tell our florist, whom I was meeting with later that afternoon,  my idea to use the organza on the chairs and the table runners. As I described what I had in mind he just winced, "Well, I usually think of chair sashes for more formal weddings." Well this isn't a formal wedding, but it is not cheap. And, I want it to look nice." "Well it would add color to a sea of white." "See, that's what I am talking about." 

"If I were you, I would use a satin runner down the middle of each table to add some color. Organza is going to fade away." "Oh. Then should we look at satin chair sashes?" "Weeeell, you could, but that is going to add a lot of fuss to everything." I stopped and thought, then added, "And, now we are starting to look like Barbie's Dream Wedding." "Uh, yeah."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Photography Post - Brookland Plantation House

Brookland Plantation circa mid- 1700's, a pre-Revolutionary War indigo plantation located on Shingle Creek on Edisto Island, South Carolina

Monday, March 25, 2013

I Never Got the Merit Badge

No one bothered to tell me (and it is a little too late now)  that I needed an apprenticeship before I qualified as MOB. Now, as I have said before there are those women who dream of this. 

I think there are three categories of MOB's.  Those who spend every other waking moment from the time their doctor says "It's a Girl" until the preacher says "I now pronounce you . . " planning, scheming, booking, and envisioning the perfect wedding from engagement party to brunch to reception. Then there are  the red neck don't give a damn "I saw it in a magazine, Kim Kardashian did it this way, so I can too"'s. (Of course this is translated into a version straight out of a trailer park, Woodmen of the World Hall, and the City Park near the fountain, just beyond the playground and the jungle gym.) And, there is me trying to find my way through the mad world of designer gowns, must have trinkets, and to die for do dahs (spare me please).

I never saw a merit badge on Wedding Planning when I was Girl Scout and my sash was filled with a plethora of badges ranging from First Aide to Camping to Forestry to Recycling - Thank You! I even had one on Collecting. (My collection was one of beer cans. And, I had a quite the selection - more than 75 different cans from all over the world, including many domestic varieties most local folks had never heard of. Needless to say, Mrs. Hewett, my Scout Leader, bless her heart, was a little speechless when I made the presentation to the troop for my badge. But, I digress.)

Back to the matter at hand. I was prepared for the gown, the invitations, the cake, and those matters. But. no one prepared me for the onslaught of issues that require copious quantifies of drugs and alcohol to handle.  Linens - white or ivory? A runner? And, what color? Should it be satin or organza? What size stage does the band need? And, the dance floor? 

The venue needs another check. I have already paid them. A set-up fee? That wasn't in the contract? Oh, we can pay it or set-up the tables and chairs ourselves. That doesn't look like an option. And, the bakery wants $250 just to deliver the cake? I'm not sure my wedding dress cost that much. On second thought, isn't a wedding cake so over rated anyway?

Do we want a golf cart to carry our guests from the polo field to the lawn? No, our guests can walk and enjoy the lovely grounds. Do we need one? No. What if  . . ? If something happens, we'll deal with it then. We've checked the guest list and no one is infirm. If someone does something stupid at the rehearsal dinner- they are on their own.

We (the venue of the wedding and reception) did tell you that the street address on our website is not the correct address for GPS navigation, didn't we? Oh, Joy! Since the plantation is 2 miles off the beaten path of the only main road in west Jesus, I guess they can wing it. The invitations have already gone out. 

Oh, and by the way, we did tell all the guests that they cannot get a taxi from the airport in Charleston to the island, the closest hotel is 30 miles from the venue, and to remember to bring mosquito repellent. And, perhaps it will be best not worry them about the alligators.  But, April will most likely be warm enough for them to be out and about.

I know these are just the minor details that everyone deals with. But, I had enough trouble finding a dress. No one prepared me for golf carts, GPS coordinates, and runners. 

Photography Post - Anorack Chairs

A relaxing place under the oaks.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Emperor, a Movie Review

I was born at the tail end of the baby boom. Three months later and I would have been classified as Gen X (a scary thought). So WWII has always fascinated me. Of course there was the great music of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey. But, just the idea of all the major powers being at war at one time - and many actually working together is an overwhelming thought. I am sure it is easier to look at it in a historic perspective than as a participant. But, I digress.

The main story line of Emperor is General Douglas MacArthur's order from Washington to make the decision as to whether or not Hirohito, the Emperor of Japan should be tried for war crimes, and most likely executed, or should he be pardoned. And, MacArthur has ten days to send his decision back to the president. He assigns this onerous task to one the generals under his command, Bonner Fellers.

This task is not taken lightly. Unlike most of his fellow military cohorts, Fellers speaks Japanese and has an understanding of the culture. Washington, obviously, wants the Emperor hanged for PR reasons if nothing else. MacArthur and Fellers realize that to keep the peace and rebuild Japan, the Emperor must be spared. But, Washington is going to need solid proof he had nothing to do with Japan's involvement in the war. How far Fellers will go for firm proof of the Emperor's involvement or not in the war is impressive. 

This is not a spoiler. Everything so far is revealed in the first fifteen minutes of the film. Determining the truth, finding the proof, and making the decision sends Fellers on a mission into the higher echelon of the Japanese military, government, and royalty. As Fellers pursues the truth about the Emperor, there is a tale in tandem of a haunting lost love Fellers is also seeking.

Matthew Fox plays Fellers well as the wholesome all American guy thrown into the war with an undying duty to his country and respect for Japan. And Tommy Lee Jones steps up to the plate to fill the egotistical shoes of MacArthur, tasked with rebuilding Japan juxtaposed with building his own political clout. We see a heart under the gruff hard ass image he so likes to show.

I enjoyed the film for the story line and the history. Fellers is not intimidated by much, but while trying not insult the honor of the Japanese, he goes to great lengths to seek the truth. How far he will go for firm proof of the Emperor's involvement or not in the war is impressive. He and MacArthur are not willing to make such a decision without hard proof.

The rest is history, at least the main story. The underlying love story is much more complicated.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Reassurance for Mother of the Bride

I just want it known to all that I am tired of making decisions. It no longer matters to me if my shoes are platinum or light bronze. Is it really going to matter if the porta toilets have mirrors in them or places to hang your purses? And, no, I cannot even tell you the names of any of the patterns my daughter has chosen. It would suit me if I could just lay on my chaise lounge and eat bon bons.

I never aspired to be the Mother of the Bride and so far it is everything I feared - frustrating, tedious, and exhausting. Oh, I know when the big day comes, it will all be worth it. It would be much better, had I been able to take a sabbatical for about 2 months to properly prepare for the occasion. The first six weeks, I would have spent in the West Indies after I hired an excellent wedding director and given her (or him) carte blanche to plan, coordinate, and put on the grand event. Then I would return for the final two weeks, well rested and ready to assume my role. Sounds like a plan to me.

I saw a piece in the news yesterday that a new thing for brides (who absolutely have no proper upbringing whatsoever) is to send out "You are not invited" notices to acquaintances who may think they are closer friends than they are. Apparently  folks assume if you are their "friend" on Facebook then they will make the final cut on your wedding invitation list. These are most likely the same folks who do not RSVP, skip the ceremony, show up at the reception before everyone else so they can get to the bar early, and never send a gift. At least  Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson (in the "Wedding Crashers") always attended the ceremony, showed up with a proper gift, participated in everything, and often were the life of the party. But, I digress.

I need my mother here telling me I was doing a good job, although she would know I wasn't, but knew it was the right thing to say. That is the thing about southern women, we know when to say just the right thing, even when we know we do not mean it. Just the fact that she would say it, would reassure me that life was as it should be. 

Photography Post - Swing

A swing by the tidal creek.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, a Movie Review

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is, well, not so incredible. Steve Carell (Wonderstone) plays half of a Magic Team (the other half played by Steve Buscemi) that has headlined in Las Vegas for twenty years. Unfortunately, as time moved on, they did not. Night after night, their act never changed and time caught with them.Or, better yet, the follies of Jim Carey, who plays a gory street magician brought their show to a bitter end. When they find that their act has disappeared like the rabbit in the hat, they are lost, especially Burt. 

And, to be quite honest, the movie flags like Burt's career. Only the talents of Steve Carell and Jim Carey carry it along. After all, when have those two not been fun to watch.  But, they can only carry it so far. Even with this star power, the magic isn't quite there. Once again, about thirty minutes into the movie, my DH turned to me, "This has got to get better." I didn't comment and we didn't leave.

Then the movie settles down, (as an aside) earlier when boy had met girl and boy humiliated girl, suddenly boy realizes what a fool he was and wants girl back. Alan Arkin, as the grand old Master Magician, comes in to save the day and remind all that it is that love of the magic that matters. He always seems to appear in good films (Argo, Little Miss Sunshine,  Stand up Guys, as examples). The best part of the movie is the last. I always wanted to know how they made an audience disappear and then reappear. It is truly amazing.

Oh, it's a magic act. 

Phorography Post - Edisto Sunrise

Summer sunrise on the beach.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Where is Franck When You Need Him?

36 days (5 weeks and a day) and my dress has not come in. And, it has some serious alterations to undergo when it does. Should I be concerned? Ah, yeah. The girl at the dress shop made it seem like it was no problem. They could turn it around in two weeks. It is bad enough to try to get things off the list, much less now have them reappear. Invisible ink is clearly against the rules here.

Speaking of "rules", no one shared them with me. I figured out a while back that Emily Post and Amy Vanderbilt are now gauche. My first hint was when I noticed women wearing sun dresses and flip flops at a 6 o'clock wedding. This was not a red neck ho down at the local Chat 'n Chew, with folks in back making wagers if the bride would make it to Wednesday this time. I'm talking about a well thought of family at a fairly big church. It only went downhill from there. Then there are the competitive weddings. I don't have time to compete.

I keep hearing stories about the incredible things folks did for their guests at the wedding. Such as: We did the welcome bags. We got bags from paper mart, information from the local chamber of commerce and then we went to dollar store and went nuts we got sunscreen and towels for our beach day, mini Aleve, mini Tide to go stick, mouthwash, lotion. Then we went to the liquor store and got mini bottles of champagne so they could celebrate. For the final item we got chocolates from a local place. We also included a welcome letter and my husband made this awesome map on Google with directions to all the events and put it all together threw a monogramed sticker on it decorated with ribbons in our colors and voila!

Shoot me now.

I assume these are also the Brides who have the week before the wedding planned with a day spa on Wednesday for all the girls, a trip to the Beach on Thursday for the wedding party, Friday is family day with a picnic lunch (and croquet on the lawn) for everyone, then the rehearsal and the dinner. Of course, then there is the Grand Finale on Saturday. To make it simple for their guests, they have an app you can download on iTunes. Just search for "Muffy and Doug's Special Day". That way you will not miss a thing.

There are times I really wish Franck Egellhoffer (from 'Father of the Bride') would appear and take care of everything. But, then again, I'm still waiting for the Housekeeping Fairy.

I know, good luck with that one, right?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Monday, March 11, 2013

Moonshiners, Swamp People, and Honey Boo Boo

Move on Kim Kardashian, it's all over. Real House Wives of Orange County, New Jersey, Atlanta, and Beverly Hills it's time to cry in your martinis. The Bachelor and The Bachelorette may as well  find each other and elope. And, Survivor, everyone's been voted off the Island. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and the Duck Dynasty.

It was Jeff Foxworthy who said, "You might be a Red Neck if your life time goal is to own a fireworks stand." I always thought he was the seer of our time. If anyone ever questioned it, just look at America's new reality obsession. The pretty people (at least on TV) have been usurped by the "Little Miss" Ultimate Grand Supreme pageant princess in Georgia, alligator hunters in Louisiana, and Moonshiners in Appalachia.

Suddenly big hair, uber makeup, bling, and cat fights between women have been replaced by unkept hair, dental issues, overalls, polyester, plaid shirts, and southern dialect (of all flavors). America  has been taken in by unabashed truth and blue collar life - sometimes skirting the law.

A reviewer at Forbes stated Here Comes Honey Boo Boo "portray[s] Alana's [Honey Boo Boo] family as a horde of lice-picking, lard-eating, nose-thumbing hooligans south of the Mason-Line"  stating that "it falls flat, because there’s no true dysfunction here, save for the beauty pageant stuff." Ouch! I take offense.  Of course, the more entertaining part of the show is the back story, the members of the family - including Sugar Bear, Pumpkin, Chick-a-dee, and Chubs (and Uncle Poodle and Crazy Tony). Truth is so much better than fiction.

Honey Boo Boo in action on the stage.

And, Honey Boo Boo at home.

We are all dysfunctional down here, we just choose our method. I take no offense for their being "lice-picking, lard-eating, nose-thumbing hooligans" just as I would hope they would excuse our family for being in-fighting, loafer wearing, food snobs. 

On another note, mother June  feeds her family on $80 a week by clipping copious coupons, playing Bingo, exploiting roadkill, and acquiring child-support checks from each of her four children’s fathers. I find that damn resourceful. Of course Honey Boo Boo's diet includes "Go Go Juice," a mixture of Red Bull and Mountain Dew that contains as much caffeine  as two cups of coffee.

Duck Dynasty is the newest sensation of this genre.  The LA Times commented on Duck Dynasty in a recent article. Now down here, most of us live among duck hunters, and I have no doubt that these characters are honest to God real folks and this is the way they look at life. However I can say that none of the duck hunters in my life have this much 'personality' nor do they enjoy the same joie de vivre.

Moonshiners (a docudrama on the Discovery Channel) is a little more edgy. This is truly the good ol' boys staying two steps ahead of the law - modern day real life bootleggers making hootch in the backwoods of Appalachia,  hiding the location of their stills, and selling their liquor - complete with narration and the law looking for them. 

Swamp People is another highly entertaining glimpse into the red neck culture. It follows several different gator hunters during the thirty day Alligator season in Louisiana. Watching them compete in the bayou is not nearly as much fun as listening to their dialogue (which at times requires one needs to either speak Cajun or have a translator on hand) and the ongoing background narrator setting up the scenes, "Now Troy, he knows he needs to have a good day today. And, he has a plan. While everyone else is going out in the northern area, he slips into the back swamp. He hopes that his secret spot will bring him luck."

My Daddy always said the South was going to rise again, I just don't think this was what he had in mind.

Photography Post - Sedona Sunset-2

Another sunset on the rim of the Sedona hills in Arizona. If you have never been there, add it to your list.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Article I, Section 8, Clause 7*

Knowing the invitations would arrive soon, I took it upon myself to order the stamps, ones with a Wedding Cake on them (How convenient for the US Postal Service to just happen to have a .66 stamp - the size needed for a typical wedding invitation- with a wedding cake.) and forever floral stamps. Done and done. I was pretty pleased with myself. For once I did something ahead of time. Or, so I thought.

That afternoon the UPS man arrived with a 20 pound box from Reaves Engraving with the invitations. I opened the box to find an assortment of boxes containing addressed inner and outer envelopes, as well as reply cards and their envelopes. Now they just needed to be assembled so they could be mailed. The reply cards and return envelopes needed to go inside the inner envelopes. But, we couldn't do that until we had the stamps for the reply envelopes. At least we could start with the invitations themselves. However, the inner envelopes (with the invitations already in them with the tissues) could not be put in the outer envelopes until we had the reply cards and return envelopes in them. Bottom line, nothing was going together until we had the stamps.

Now, if I had not been proactive and ordered the stamps on line, I could have just gone down to our local post office, bought the stamps, brought them home, assembled all this fine engravery I had before me and be done with it. But, oh no. I had to be efficient - for once.

I hate the post office. I hate the lines. I hate the inefficient workers. I detest going in the place. That is why I went to and ordered my stamps online. And even though I had just purchased $64 of Forever stamps online, I could suck it up and go to our local post office, buy the Forever stamps and at least get the reply card envelopes done. After all we will eventually use $64 of Forever stamps, unless the Post Office goes out of business before hand. But, in this case, I'm willing to take that chance. As for the other stamps, we'll just have to wait for those, I have no use whatsoever for a hundred and twenty .66 stamps sitting around the house.

So off to the post office I went. The parking lot was only half full - a good sign. When I got inside, I was shocked - there was only one person in line - usually there are 15-20. Maybe, I was being too harsh. As I stood there and waited, I noticed there were two workers at the counter (set-up for four). One was waiting on a customer, the other was fiddling with paper work. As I stood there the line behind me continued to lengthen. The lady in front of me wanted to purchase 3 money orders - Joy! The second counter lady continued "fiddling". By the time I reached the counter, she still had not found time to wait on the ever growing line of customers. (Rome could have burned for all she cared.)

I asked the lady (who was not fiddling) if I could  see what stamps she had available. "Not many I'm afraid. What do you need them for?" "A wedding." "Oh, dear. We only have these." With that she held up a sheet of stamps with American Flags on them and another design of workers in black and gray. "Those won't do." "I know." "When will you have any more." "We won't. These are all we can get. You need to order them online at" I thanked her and left.

So, the US Postal Service wants to keep the local offices open but they don't carry a selection of stamps and some of the workers don't find customer service to be a priority. I am told the stamps I ordered from will be shipped out in one day and sent Priority Mail which means I should expect to receive them in 3-5 business days - through the US Mail. Yet, I can get anything I want (except postage stamps) from Amazon and receive it the next day. I am trying to spend money with the Postal Service for use of their services.  If I'm not mistaken, they are the ones running commercials on TV about going out of business.

I hope that my experience was perhaps unique and most post offices still offer friendly and efficient service. I know our mailman is a dear. He goes out of his way to make sure our packages are put safely  out of the weather inside the sun room - most of those packages being from Amazon. Too bad Jeff Bezos hasn't considered selling stamps. 

* The postal clause in the United States Constitution, allowing Congress "To establish Post Offices and post roads."

Photography Post - Sedona Sunset

Sunset over the hills in Sedona, Arizona.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Southern Women, Drunks, and Silver

As I have said before, a young woman's taste, sometimes her future, could be judged by her mere choice of silver patterns. "She chose Old Master" - "That is arrogant!" "Well don't hold it against her, it has been in her family and with the economy and all . . ." or "You know Missy chose Buttercup." - "Now wasn't that sweet." The kiss of death. "Mary Neal has registered for Bel Chateau." "Well, at least it is sterling. It is isn't it?"

I did not realize I had a choice in silver patterns  when we got married. Due to both ignorance and the fact that the Hunt Brothers had cornered the silver market in 1981, few of our friends would be able to afford pieces of sterling for us, so I would be best hoping to inherit the patterns of my mother and grandmother. Therefore, my sterling pattern is Chantilly by default. (As it turned out, of the 350 guests at the wedding, I received a gravy ladle and one teaspoon - a wise decision on my part.)

My Mama insisted we use sterling flatware at every meal while I was growing up. In Mama's mind, the idea that my DH and I were eating on stainless was just unfathomable. On the random birthday, anniversary, or Christmas (when she was functioning) she would give me a piece of sterling. Given it was hard for two people, much less four after the girls arrived, to eat with only a gravy ladle, one or two teaspoons, a two knives, and a fork, I found stainless the obvious choice. 

Perhaps it was a good thing my childhood table was set with her Chantilly at each meal, otherwise we may have  contracted some type of bungee bungee disease eating the meals she "prepared" that were semi cooked, burned to smithereens, or totally unrecognizable due to her affinity for the bottle.  Maybe the alchemy of the sterling offset any affliction we may have contracted. 

Given her state, at any given time, while I was growing up, or the state of her kitchen for that matter, it is a testament to innate breeding of the southern woman in her, that she insisted we eat with sterling silver flatware. There were times there was no meal, but the table was always set with the silver. Often we gathered only to realize dinner was not going to be ready before bedtime so we opted for sandwiches. It would not be unusual to find a severely burnt piece of beef in the oven a day or two later. I found it easier to throw out the pan with  whatever was left over from the extensive roasting. And, yes, God looks after drunks, fools, southern women, and various combinations of the former, because our home never burned down.

I inherited my Mama's and my Grandmother's Chantilly flatware. If only it could talk - or not. The important thing is that it survived that generation and lived to serve another. And, although my DH and I enjoy eating our meals with sterling flatware, I can attest there is always a meal and I have yet to find a forgotten roast in the oven a day or two later - so far. But, then God looks after  . . .

Photography Post - Arizona Highway

A scene along an Arizona highway.

Friday, March 1, 2013