Posts Tagged ‘family’

Serenading Grandma

Meet my 106-year old Grandma. My dad, on fiddle, and his friend stopped by to play for her today. I learned that my great-grandfather played the fiddle.

After the camera was off, I also found out that Grandma used to play the slide guitar.

What’s really crazy? I recorded this on my phone and Grandma remembers when they didn’t have a phone. Talk about living in the future.

The news from Lake Wobegon: Matt and Michelle’s wedding

It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon.  The weather has cooled off after the heat wave of the week before and killed off a lot of the mosquitos. It’s a good thing, too, what with the wedding and all.  Matt and Michele have been an item for the past ten years and finally decided to tie the knot.

The occasion prompted friends and relatives to come in from all over.   Matt’s grandparents came in from Hawaii and San Francisco. His aunt and uncle came from Portland, Oregon — which rhymes with Wobegon by the way — just to be there.

His Aunt Mary had only been out to visit twice before, so the entire experience of a Lutheran wedding was a strange thing to her.  On the surface you might not think it was that much different from the weddings where she was from, but the preponderance of Norwegian bachelor farmers gave the occasion a stolidity to which she was unaccustomed.  It’s hard to tell what people are thinking, if you’re not from here. Norwegian stock isn’t given to overt displays of emotion — at least not in church. There are times and places for all things.

Which is not to say that emotions don’t run deep. They do.  It is hard to imagine a happier couple than Matt and Michelle. Cliched words, perhaps, but true nonetheless as it is true at every wedding between people who love each other. The ceremony is an expression of that love and it is shared by everyone in the church, reflected back at the couple tenfold.  Even the folks from out of town could see the joy radiating out of the bridal party.

It’s a fine thing to see, that joy.

Matt’s sister, Laura, stood up with one of her friends and sang. Lots of folks didn’t know either girl sang, but they have beautiful voices. Beautiful voices. Laura, in particular, had an expression about her that made her aunt think of religious icons and wonder if her niece had ever posed for a saint’s statue.

The ceremony was brief and personal.  It made Aunt Mary cry and wonder why she’d forgotten to pack a handkerchief when they were getting ready to come out here. Weddings always made her cry, after all.  She’s not weak, you understand, but doesn’t have the winters to toughen her up the way we do here.

After the wedding, the bridal party went across the lake on a pontoon over to Pelican Landing for the reception. Oh, they looked grand in their finery on the lake, with the blue water reflecting back at them.  The weather was just cool enough that the men in their tuxedos weren’t compelled to pull their jackets off and yet not so cool that the young ladies, in their long black gowns needed a wrap to put around their shoulders. The gowns were strapless, a fact which shocked some of the older members of the community who still remembered when being in church meant you had covered arms and wore a hat. Bare shoulders? That was something daring.

The gentlemen wore black tuxedos with black shirts and camouflage vests and bow-ties. Lest you get the same idea in your head that Aunt Mary had gotten into hers before coming out, you should know that camouflage comes in many different varieties.  Aunt Mary had pictured the fluorescent orange leaf patterns that her cousins wore when hunting in the hills of Tennessee.  These vests were a dark print of natural leaves and bark.  More like a designer texture than anyone only associated with the Hollywood idea of camouflage might think.  They were, in fact, the perfect blending of the elegance of the bride and the outdoorsman of the groom.  The theme of the wedding might have been Elegant Hunter, in fact, which made the pontoon trip all the more appropriate.

Some, like the groom’s Uncle Rob, had predicted that the pontoon would capsize, the way it did when Pastor Ingqvist had hosted the delegation of renegade Lutheran pastors from Denmark.  It didn’t though and they arrived safely at the Pelican Lake landing.  Everything went smoothly, in fact, until they got off the pontoon onto the dock.

The dock was designed for a couple of people to clamber into a boat with their tackle and maybe their dog. It wasn’t built to accommodate twelve young people in formal dress.

The first few out were okay, but then–  There comes a moment when you hear a sound and know what is going to happen next.  You know that the popping noise is not good.

The end of the dock unlocked. It sank into the water, throwing up a spray on the water on the people still in the boat and dousing the hems of those on the dock itself. Fortunately, the lake is shallow there, so it couldn’t sink more than a foot.   By some miracle, the bride’s dress escaped untouched as though the lake were blessing the union by not baptizing them anew.

They all proceeded inside for the reception.  The Pelican Ballroom had been done up in white gauze and fairy lights.  It was filled to capacity with friends and family of the happy couple.  Here, Aunt Mary saw the Norwegian reserve fall away.

Perhaps Matt and Michelle had relied upon that reserve as a way to avoid one of the old traditions of wedding receptions.  They announced that they would not kiss when people clinked their glasses, they would only kiss if someone sang a song with the word love in it.

Perhaps they thought they were being clever. Perhaps they thought that no one would sing. Perhaps they thought that there weren’t many songs with the word love in them and even if there were, no one could remember them.

They were mistaken in all of this and spent much of the afternoon being serenaded and kissing while their friends and family watched.

I can think of no better way to start a life together.

And that’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and the children are above average.

Why did I agree to run a 5k? I don’t run.

I’ve just returned from buying a pair of running shoes. I told my nephew that I would run a 5k with him. What was I thinking? Sure, I didn’t tell him when I’d run it, but it still obligates me to at least start the process. Right now I can run about half a block.

Biking? Sure, I’ll go miles. But running? I shudder.

And yet, he is my nephew and I adore him and I’m pleased that he wants me to do this with him. It’s just… 5k. Running.

Maybe I should tell him that I’ll run it if I become a NY Times Bestselling author? If it happened, that would at least be a win-win situation, or adequate compensation for the PAIN. Again, I ask, what was I thinking?

Napping, writing, and Mongolian Grill

I mostly stayed in today and wrote. I did a little bit of SFWA business in the morning, but nothing particularly strenuous.  The rest of the day involved goofing off, writing, and  napping.  Somehow Rob’s mom only catches me when I’m writing so has this mistaken impression that I work All The Time, which is just not true.

I did walk down to the park and sit outside to write for a bit, but that’s so relaxing it hardly counts as work. And seriously, in Hawaii, everything blooms. Even the birds.

This evening we all went out for Mongolian Grill at the Air Force officer’s club, courtesy of Mr. Kowal.  The setting is really lovely although we were a little late for the sunset. Still you will get absolutely no complaints from me.

This vacation thing. I sort of like it.

Hawaii is dreamy

Hawaii continues to be lovely.  Yesterday Rob made Taro waffles and papaya with lime for breakfast. We chatted. I napped. We went for a walk. I napped. I wrote a little and then napped… you see how stressful it is to be here.

Meanwhile, in Portland, I understand that there are winter weather warnings.  I might take a nap and think about that.

Travel Day — To Hawaii

Among the many bonuses of being married to Rob, comes the fact that I like his parents.  I would like them even if they didn’t live in Hawaii.

We are off to visit for the week.  Try not to feel sorry for me.

Heading back to Portland after a lovely Christmas

Rob and I are heading back to Portland today.  It’s been a lovely trip and I always find myself wishing I’d scheduled more time.  The weather, alas, has completely failed to snow us in, despite my wishing it would.  It is sunny and beautiful outside with lingering mounds of snow on the grass and nothing to impede the roads.

But… just in case people want to avoid my travel paths.  We’ll take the noon shuttle to Atlanta and then take a 4:30 flight back to Portland getting in around 7pm Pacific.  Hopefully, we’ll be home by 8:00 tonight.

Photos of Christmas 2010 plus a snowball fight

Today was absolutely lovely.  In this order, I sat by the fire, opened presents, played in the snow, napped, ate leftovers.  There was some cleaning involved as well, but it did little to diminish the pleasures of the day. Why cleaning? Besides the carnage of the wrapping paper, thirty-three members of our extended family came for the 54th annual Christmas Eve dinner.

Mom and Dad live in the house that Dad grew up in, Woodthrush Woods. Yes, it’s a named house. My grandfather built it.

I grew up in Raleigh, N.C. but since both Mom and Dad are from Chattanooga I’ve always come here for the holidays with only three Christmases missed.  You’ll forgive me for continuing to mention this, but today was my first white Christmas.

Here are some photos and a video, mostly for our family, but I figure you won’t mind it if indulge in showing some of the snowy fun.

Continue reading ›

Christmas Snow!

We’ve got an inch on the ground in Chattanooga and it’s still coming down. Those of you from places where it really snows, hush. This is the first time in my life that I’ve had a white Christmas. I’m fully aware that the snow isn’t making it under the trees yet but it’s covering the rest of the ground. Snow!


Continue reading ›

The arrival of my brother and an outing for barbecue

Today has been a lovely day. Although Mom had the house mostly decorated for Christmas, I helped put some additional greenery up and made some arrangements. On Christmas Eve we’ll have dinner for thirty-three, which will be delightful. It’s all family extending out to third cousins.

Meanwhile, my brother and his children arrived this evening making the house feel very full and cozy. The group of us went out to Couch’s barbecue for dinner.  I love this restaurant although my whole pretense of being vegetarian stays by the curb when I go inside.  Mmm…

Happy Birthday, Steve!

Today is my brother’s birthday. You remember Steve, right? He’s the one who commissioned the Elvis Garden Gnome for his girlfriend’s birthday.

My brother is a generally good guy, but does have a bit of an evil streak in him. He also is fond of beers and has a deep knowledge of different types and brewing methods.

So for his birthday, I designed a beer stein for him.  Care to take a guess about what’s on the other side of that mug…

Mwahahaha! The evil, did I mention that it runs in the family?

Building an Elvis Garden Gnome

My brother, bless his heart, wanted to give his girlfriend an Elvis garden gnome as a gag gift on her birthday and discovered that no one makes them. This was actually a little surprising. So he turned to me.

To begin, I found an existing gnome in a position that would work for my needs. This one is called “The conductor.”  I really wanted one playing a guitar but the only one in that pose was also plaster, which wouldn’t work. I needed a resin gnome. Continue reading ›

Hawaii under tsunami warning, emergency response plans underway – washingtonpost.com

Rob’s parents live in Hawaii, but in Aiea, which is way up on a ridge so I’m not actually worried about their house. And yet…it’s hard not to be fixed on the news.

State officials in Hawaii have activated their emergency response plans to prepare for a possible tsunami caused by the massive earthquake in Chile, an official said Saturday.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning — its highest alert — for Hawaii, where incoming waves topping out at six feet could cause damage along the coastlines across the island chain. A warning was also in effect for Guam, American Samoa and dozens of other Pacific islands.

The first waves were expected to arrive in Hawaii at 11:19 a.m. Saturday (4:19 p.m. EST).

What is amazing is how much warning they have now that the wave is coming.  I just hope that people are paying attention and there aren’t too many stupid people who decide to go to the beach to watch.

via Hawaii under tsunami warning, emergency response plans underway – washingtonpost.com.

Catching you up

I think I should probably acknowledge that while SFWA hasn’t had any significant impact on my writing life, it does cut into the blogging pretty severely. Not that I don’t have time so much as that I don’t have the inclination as much.

Some of it also is that I feel like my life is not terribly interesting at the moment. For instance today, I spent in a coffee shop doing some writing and some Nebula stuff. Granted, I’m in Nashville visiting family but there’s not much to say about that besides the fact that I’m here. I like my family and we get along so there’s no drama to report.

In other news, Mom is doing really well. She drove yesterday and has permission to not wear the leg brace all the time.

Tomorrow I head to Grand Rapids to record more audio fiction. That will be fun.