Emma’s Wedding

DSC_0991Today, it’s been two months since my niece Emma married Glyn. In my life, the big things aren’t cemented until I’ve written them. From writing this wedding I have cowered, knowing my word hoard hasn’t the depth or width required. I refuse to use ‘epic’ and ‘awesome’, yet I’m still searching for the best words.

July 20142It was a grand Coming Together. Emma is American. Glyn is British. They live in Turkey. Their friends live all over the world. Each mileage sign represents someone who came to the wedding.  The only continents not represented were South America, Australia, and Antarctica.

lobsterfeedThis wedding occupied three days. Everyone was invited to the rehearsal dinner aka Lobster Feed, the wedding the next day, and a brunch the day after the wedding. It resembled the medieval feasts that I read about in my books.

DSC_0860The ceremony was held under the ancient apple tree.

DSC_0877The background was my sister-in-law’s glorious garden.

DSC_0763She grew almost all the flowers for the wedding.

DSC_0653My daughter-in-law made the bride’s bouquet.

DSC_0857A sail cloth tent hovered over the festivities.
My grandson said, “Nana, it looks like Narnia.”

DSC_0909The tables were set.

DSC_0910Mismatched china completely charmed me.
‘Elegant simplicity’ set the tone.

DSC_0915All the cloths under the flowers were purchased
at the bazaar in Istanbul.

DSC_1021My brother, the tenor, sang Simple Gifts, a song
that he sang at the wedding of Emma’s parents.

DSC_1022Emma and Glyn listen.

July 20143Kids were welcomed with open arms.
Not often does one hear, “I’m so glad you brought all your kids!

July 20144We’ve always loved Emma; it was easy to see why she loved Glyn.
They are both strong, generous, compassionate, and fun.
Not to mention smart. They have our deep respect.

DSC_1000As long as I’m giving honor, let me say that my brother Jim
and my sister-by-marriage Kathleen were stellar. This event was
the culmination of a lifetime of love invested in their family, work on
their homestead, their habits of beauty, blessing, and hospitality.

DSC_1016Emma’s older brother Will—best friend of bride
and groom—officiated. This was his first gig. We called
him—tongue in cheek—”Brother Will.”

DSC_1163There were some great toasts: sweet, witty, heartfelt.
But at the end of the day, what everyone remembered
and remarked on was Jim’s toast to his daughter.

DSC_0887Then we took the party to the barn.

DSC_1188My grandson (with the hat) rocked the reception
with his unique style of dance.

DSC_1224It is a Turkish custom to have fireworks at a wedding.

DSC_1219It was a magical evening.

BakkerfamilysanscollinThis is our family (missing our son Collin).
The extended tribe (my siblings and their descendants)
present numbered 39. There were gaps here and there.
We cherish time together and relished the gift.

With the help of Facebook and texting, my kids and their cousins
are much closer than my generation was with ours.
It is a delight to see their friendships deepen.

DSC_07052014 will forever be the summer of Emma’s wedding.

My photographer brother’s photos.

Link to the magnificent photographer’s pictures.
(She shoots film.)

England, Goudge, the Eliots

101_4570Elizabeth Goudge’s Eliot Family Trilogy?

First, it is English: paragraphs of appreciative comments on the comfort of tea; gallons of hot tea consumed; nine variations of rain—slanting, gentle, white, solid, gloomy, light, windy, misty, sparkly; logs added to warming fires; imaginative children; a country vicar; the pronoun ‘one’ put to good use (Eustace—dreadful name! One thinks at once of a parson’s dog-collar); ditto for the adverb ‘rather’ and the adjective ‘dreadful’ (Ben says it’s dreadful. They’re trying to do a telescoped version of ‘The Wind in the Willows’, and it won’t telescope.)

Then, it is Elizabeth Goudge. I find Goudge in a category of her own. She is spiritual, at times mystical, fantastical (Faerie, but just in cameo appearances), romantic in the sense of the woods being infused with symbolism, almost medieval.

But her characters deal with modern problems that most authors of her genre would avoid. One man falls in love (inexcusably, I’d say: one must recognize boundaries) with the wife of one of his relatives. This complex relationship is the focus of her first book, but isn’t completely resolved until the third. Goudge’s parents have favorite children. Some of the marriages lack love. One character’s violent past is haunting.

There is a strong sense of place. Damerosehay, a large eighteenth century house purchased by the Grandmother, home base for the Eliot family, is the focus of book one. The Herb of Grace—a Pilgrim’s Inn, where sojourners stay on pilgrimage to a sacred place—is more ancient, with deep history in its walls. George and Nadine’s restoration of this Inn is the focus of the second book. The third book adds Lavender Cottage, a small place where Margaret and Lucilla can retire.

Her themes resonate with me: determined contentedness; work as a sacramental offering; the mystery of small joys; beauty indoors and outdoors, interior and exterior; the inscrutable connection between twins; aging, grandparenting, and above all else, relinquishment.

“Relinquish.” It was a good word. It suggested not the tearing away of treasures but the willing and graceful sacrifice of them.     The Bird in the Tree

The twins mimic a blend of The Wind in the Willows, medieval crusaders, and pirates:

“Scrooge, scrabble and scratch.” repeated Jerry. “For the glory of God, my hearties. For the glory of God.” Pilgrim’s Inn

Hilary, wounded in the first world war, is stable, sensible, lovable.

Nevertheless, the tea was what he wanted. Heat, he thought, there’s nothing like it. All the best symbols have to do with light and fire and warmth. The Heart of the Family

Hendrickson has recently reissued the trilogy.
            

I took the top photograph at Shere, a picturesque English village. While I was in England, I darted into used bookshops looking for treasures. It is thence I found a first edition of The Herb of Grace (the English title for Pilgrim’s Inn), my favorite of the three books. I’d like to give away this book that has given me much pleasure. (It’s the first time I’ve used this widget. I hope it works.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway Congratulations, Di! You won the Herb of Grace book.

*It occurred to me that my definition of ‘treasure’ might not jive with yours. Here is a picture of the book. It is not a pretty book, but I love the inscription in the front “Jeanette Pound 1950” and I like old hardbacks.

DSC_8686

Babette’s Feast

BabetteA year ago I received Babette’s Feastfrom . Yesterday morning, a full ironing basket beckoned. I was in an unhurried mood one needs to watch Babette. After all the shirts were pressed I grabbed some tea and just soaked it in.

A great movie rewards each new viewing. Like many foreign films, the story is acted with subtlety rather than told point-blank in the dialog. But one shouldn’t be fooled by the slow pace. There is humor tucked into pockets of every scene. And irony—rich irony—becomes more evident, and more enjoyable, each time I’ve watched.

Babette’s Feast delivers a blow to gnostic pietism: the belief that worship is divorced from the way we dress, chop wood, sing, balance accounts, do laundry, have sex, eat and drink.The small Jutland community despises the physical—read: body—; only the “spiritual” is valued.

The two sisters, Martina and Philippa, have a heart for good works, but the disgusting bread ale fish stew they bring to shut-ins is a symbol of the impoverished culture in which they live. Their French servant Babette fixes a feast in which every sense is heightened. Her preparations are the pinnacle of the film: simmering soup, sauces, pastries, wine, chocolate. But she also pays close attention of the table setting, the presentation of the food, the order in which it is served.

I had no sympathy for the “dear Pastor” whose control of his daughters excluded the possibility of their getting married. His mocking laughter—I had not noticed it before— as he delivers a “dear John” letter from his daughter exposes him for the shriveled soul that he is.

I’m quite sure now that I didn’t “get” this movie the first time. The extravagance of one fine meal defies logic. As I grow, my appreciation deepens. I see layers upon layers, deeper meanings.

And the juxtapositions! In their paranoia the dinner guests agree to not mention the food. “It will be just as if we never had a sense of taste.” That was a laugh out loud moment! So they sit, silent and suspicious, while the general can’t stop talking about the exquisite dishes he is eating.

The general’s driver sits in the kitchen, watching and eating the same feast in a warm corner. Unlike the general, for whom the food recalls a Paris restaurant in his past, the driver has never before tasted French cuisine. He resides in the background of the movie, but his bright nose and twinkling eyes, his one word benediction: “Good!” is a fitting contrast to the others’ silence.

One distraction: the movie is Danish with English overdubbed. The chasm between the dubbing and the subtitles was hilarious!

I am eager to read Isak Dinesen’s (Karen Blixen’s) short story that is the basis of the film. After a long search, I found a pdf copy of it. It has been twenty-five years since this movie was made. I would love to see a talented filmmaker remake this one.

E. Goudge’s Island Magic

0848813421When Hope at Worthwhile Books reviewed Elizabeth Goudge’s first novel, I wanted to read it.  The setting is St. Pierre, the capital of Guernsey, a channel island between England and France. Island Magic quenches two of my current fascinations: island culture and late 19th century rural life.

André and Rachell du Frocq are barely eeking out a living on a farm called Bon Repos (“Good Rest” or, as I like to translate it, “Sweet Tranquility”), a place that comes with a benediction written on stone outside the farmhouse:

Harbour and good rest to those who enter here,
courage to those who go forth.
Let those who go and those who stay forget not God.

The characters of André, Rachell, their five children, Grandpapa, and the stranger Ranulph— who is taken in after a shipwreck—, are vivid and unique; they linger in my thoughts days after I finished the book. Among the five siblings are a humanitarian, a poet, a failed academic, an adventurer, and a joyspring.

The story is sad and yet not without hope. The children have individual minor tragedies, they also have the confidence and security of being part of a bustling family. The tension resides between husband and wife as they begin to think about conceding failure at farming. The stranger’s assistance is helping the bottom line, but brings more marital conflict.

Typical of Goudge, there is a fairy element in the story. Themes of faith, bitterness, the value of beauty, hard work, service, gratitude, grief and sacrifice make the story shimmer. One point of the plot beggars belief. Of course I can’t identify it without giving away part of the story.

Rarely—and happily— I come across a sentence, with which I can fully relate, and about something I’ve never before seen in literature. Island Magic delivered! This is used to be me!!

How thankful she was for her one great gift—the gift of making her nose bleed at will.

Here is a great Christmas quote:

Christmas Day at Bon Repos was something terrific. The du Frocqs took the whole of December preparing for it and the whole of January recovering from it.

Goudge’s mother was a native of Guernsey; summer visits to the grandparents were part of Goudge’s childhood. Her final thoughts on island living in this book are a bit idealistic, but they reflect some of the necessities of interpersonal relationships in a closed society.

You can’t be an individualist on our Island. There’s so much magic packed into so small a space. With the sea flung round us and holding us so tightly we are all thrown into each other’s arms—souls and seasons and birds and flowers and running water. People understand unity who live on an island. And peace. Unity is such peace.

 

 

Reading Lucy Maud, Part 2

DSC_5238 (We do not lack for red-headed beauties in these parts.)

This was my summer of Lucy Maud Montgomery. I want to share thoughts and a few choice quotes from each of the Anne books in this post..

Anne of Green Gables The themes of imagination, wonder, friendship, drama and belonging come together in the person of Anne Shirley. Anne has eyes to see and the heart to be stopped by the beauty around her. All that exuberance is counter balanced by the clear-eyed, practical Marilla Cuthbert. And who doesn’t love Matthew Cuthbert, the buyer of puffed sleeves?

“Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. it would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?”

All things great are wound up with all things little.

Anne of Avonlea Anne begins teaching at the Avonlea school. Can you imagine our schools today hiring sixteen-year-olds to teach? The cranky neighbor, Mr. Harrison, plays the curmudgeon, adding spice to the story. Marilla adopts the Keith twins, Davy and Dora, but their characters didn’t capture my interest.

I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.

Anne of the Island Anne leaves PEI for Redmond College in Nova Scotia. Anne is coming of age; she is going away, Diana is staying—their friendship will change. The book is framed by Anne and Gilbert’s relationship: from comfortable comrades at the beginning through the awkwardness of rejected romance eventually to true love.

Humor is the spiciest condiment in the feast of existence. Laugh at your mistakes but learn from them, joke over your troubles but gather strength from them, make a jest of your difficulties but overcome them.

There is so much in the world for us all if we only have eyes to see it, and the heart to love it, and the hand to gather it to ourselves—so much in men and women, so much in art and literature, so much everywhere in which to delight, and for which to be thankful.

Anne of Windy Poplars Anne is teacher/principal at a school in Summerside, back on PEI. Every Anne book needs a crank: Katherine Brooke fills the role, a woman who made being disagreeable into a fine art. Katherine is transformed by Anne’s patient and pursuing friendship.

Anne had a horror of being petty.

Even the commonplaces had been made lovely. Every bit of wire fencing was a wonder of crystal lace.

Anne’s House of Dreams The book begins with Gilbert and Anne’s wedding, a small quiet event in the apple orchard at Green Gables. They move to Glen St. Mary where Gilbert begins medical practice and Anne gets involved in the stories of the people around her. Instead of a crank, one of the main characters, Leslie Moore, is tragic. And Miss Cornelia Bryant, who has strong opinions about Methodists and Presbyterians, provides comic relief. The spinster maid, Susan Baker—one of my favorites—is introduced.

They had a sort of talent for happiness, them two.

I LIKE to be alone now and then, just to think over things and TASTE them. But I love friendship—and nice, jolly little times with people.

Anne of Ingleside Five Blythe children have joined Gilbert, Anne and the maid, Susan, at Ingleside. It is their stories we read: Jem disappears, Di learns about false friends, sensitive Walter has a long dark night; Nan cheats God.  Grouchy Aunt Mary Maria Blythe plays the part of the crank. She so resembled one of my long-departed relatives that I snorted a few times in sympathy with Anne.

Susan’s mince pies are poems, just as her apple pies are lyrics.

Only sneaks, Jem had said once, tried to get out of bargains.

Rainbow Valley This book is dear to my heart. The Reverend John Knox Meredith, the new minister, is a widower with four children. The Meredith kids get all the good stories in this book. I bonded with Rainbow Valley, of course, because my mom died when I—the youngest of seven—was ten and my dad was the same kind of absent minded minister as the Rev..

Every LMM book needs a cranky reprobate: enter Norman Douglas. Spunky Faith Meredith challenges old Norman Douglas and the sparks fly. it’s a jolly good time.

Where can folks get better acquainted than over a meal table?

The more we love the richer life is—even if it is only some little furry or feathery pet.

Rilla of InglesideLucy Maud’s final Anne book comes up to the level of Anne of Green Gables, and may even surpass it. Bertha Marilla, aka Rilla, aka Rilla-my-Rilla, is one of Montgomery’s most well-rounded, multidimensional characters. Like the Dowager in Downton Abbey, Susan Baker—the maid who is a part of the family—has the best quotes.

So much that is satisfying can be found in this book: the growth of Rilla; her fostering of the infant Jims, a war-baby; the understanding and affection between Rilla and her brother Walter; the long vigil of Dog Monday waiting for his master to return.

Rilla, published in 1921, offers a clear view of life in Canada during the war. This title belongs on more WWI lists.

When we have to do a thing, Mr. Dr. dear, we can do it.

I am not, proceeded Susan firmly, going to lament or whine or question the wisdom of the Almighty any more as I have been doing lately. Whining and shirking and blaming Providence do not get us anywhere. We have just got to grapple with whatever we have to do whether it is weeding the onion patch or running the Government. I shall grapple.

Reading Lucy Maud, Part 1

Gorging on gorgeous phrases

…capacity for conjecture…
…this barbwire twist of my career…
…clamped to a book…
…a barely audible aria of whistling…
…bridal train of dust…
…a granary of learning…
…a dervish of vocabulary…
…toxin at one end and a tocsin at the other…
…the specter of the inspector…
…lack of budge in budget…
…our impatient patient…
…trying to be harmonic, not philharmonic…

I’m slowing my pace, enjoying the feast.

The Wonder

Today is a thrilling day. Right up there with the first real snowfall, the first crocus to rise up from the earth, and the first ripe tomato fresh from the vine.

 

I miss homeschooling my boys more on this day than any other day. For 16 years we sat at our dining room table and tried to be productive. But it was hopeless. Because we all could not keep our eyes from the tree across the street. Days before we watched a single leaf float and swirl down, followed after a long interval by another floatie. 

Then, one morning after a hard frost, the tree disrobes in a frenzy.  And it has all the fascination of a peep show. We could not concentrate on Latin declensions. History didn’t matter. Algebra was out the window. And I didn’t care. I wanted my boys to have a sense of wonder at the glorious display in front of their faces. To see beauty and then shrug in boredom would wither our souls. So we stared.

 

 

Life offers a finite number of first snows, a limited number of days in your life when you can stare at the leaves falling. Look. See. Wonder. Give thanks.

55 Photographs

 Sherry was kind enough to be born exactly three months before me.
Her annual celebrations give me great ideas, which, alas, I seldom do.
But, this year, I believe I will follow through on several 55 lists.
It’s not my birthday today, but September is my birthday month.

Let’s start with 55 Photographs.
Oh, the places you will go!
One benefit of coming from a large, spread out family is that you just have to visit your people.
Here are 55 cherished memories.
I took each photo and would appreciate you asking before you download.

1. Sunrise at Atlantic Beach, North Carolina

 

2. Iona Abbey, Scotland

 

3. Iona, Scotland

 

4. Baldy Lake, Oregon

 

5. Imler, Pennsylvania

 

6. La Grande, Oregon

 

 

7. Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington

 

8. Country Bible Church, Whitman County, Washington

 

 9. Duart Castle, Isle of Mull, Scotland

 

10. Richland, Oregon

 

11. York, England

 

12. Casco Bay, Maine

 

13. Moscow, Idaho

 

14. Columbia River, Boardman, Oregon

 

15. Snake River near Richland, Oregon

 

 

16. Sebago, Maine

 

17. Cumberland, Maine

 

18. Lostine Canyon, Oregon

 

19. Enterprise, Oregon

 

20. Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Burns, Oregon

 

 

21. Mt. Shasta, as seen from Klamath Falls, Oregon

 

22. Imnaha, Oregon

 

23. Blue Ridge, Georgia

 

24. Franklin, Tennessee

 

25. Joseph Canyon, Oregon

 

26. Grande Ronde Valley, Oregon

 

27. Troy, Idaho

 

28. Rattlesnake Highway, Oregon

 

29. Chicago, Illinois

 

30. University of Chicago

 

31. Baraboo, Wisconsin

 

32. Lombard, Illinois

 

33. Wallowa, Oregon

 

34. Cary, North Carolina

 

35. Potlatch, Idaho

 

36. Baker City, Oregon

 

37. Haines, Oregon

 

 

38. La Grande, Oregon

 

39. Glamis Castle, Angus, Scotland

 

40. Outside Jasper, Alberta

 

41. Bridge of Sighs, Oxford, England

 

 

42. Lower British Columbia

 

43. On the way to Banff

 

44. Crowsnest Pass, Alberta

 

45.  Columbia Icefields, Alberta

 

46. Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint, Idaho

 

47.  Seattle, Washington

 

48. Wildlife crossing on way to Banff

 

49. Southern Washington

 

 

50. Approaching Baker City, Oregon

 

51.  High Valley, Alberta

 

52.  Alberta prairie

 

 

53.  Joseph, Oregon

 

54.  Haines, Oregon

 

55.  Home

 

 

Wedding Glory

The Grand Occasions of my life are never complete until I’ve written about them. Zack and Addie’s wedding was certainly a Grand Occasion.

Tuesday, June 26, 4:30 p.m.  Zack’s family (minus Zack and his best man, Rex) arrived at our home in Oregon. We talked and laughed around our table, the mood buoyant with anticipation. After dinner, we got busy. Di, mother of the groom, measured out bushels of flour for bread dough. John, father of the groom, got his guitar out to practice a song he had composed for the occasion. Reunited sisters and girlfriend set up their camp in a spare bedroom. Brennan, youngest brother, did what he was created to do: shoot hoops.

Wednesday, June 27, 7:10 a.m.  The family, coffeed and victualed, loaded into the van.  I love the next five words: Di stayed at my house. It was the day to cook, bake, combine, marinate. Her three-ringed binder had all the recipes. We zested lemons, chopped garlic, thickened berries, boiled pasta, cut basil, diced prosciutto, quartered artichokes, blended lime dressing. We did all the prep work that’s doable the day before a dinner for 55 people. And we talked, filling in the back stories of our lives. We sat down once for a think session. When the moon was suspended in the sky, we stopped.

Thursday, June 28, 6:30 a.m.  My husband Curt helped us fill every space in our coolers and cars the next morning. With walkie-talkies on the same channel, we embarked on the drive through bedazzling mountain passes. We stopped in Enterprise, Oregon, so Di could hold baby Solomon and to pick up Anna, for whom in twelve hours I would be thanking God about every minute.

Thursday, June 28, 6:15 p.m.  Rolls on the table, drinks in the dispensers, salads on the buffet, candles lit, places set: hurry up chicken and be done! Near disasters have been averted; several times Anna, the red-headed wonder, and I have locked eyes over the kitchen work space and said, “What are we going to do?” Addie and I share a hug, the first time we’ve met in person. The dinner looks, smells and tastes delicious. Murmuring voices, ice tinkling in glasses, forks clinking on plates, giggles forming a double helix in the air: these are the sounds of a gloriously good meal. Slideshow, skits, toasts, hugs, tears, smiles, songs. As parents, we labor for years to get to this moment of fruition.   

Friday, June 29, 6:30 p.m.  You could not pick a more picturesque setting for a wedding: rolling hills, slanting sun, peaceful air, exquisite music. As I am accompanied down the aisle, the usher says, “You need to sit in the family section.” I gulp, awed by the honor. Minutes before the ceremony begins, we are upgraded to the front row! Grateful for the opportunity to imprint the images for dear ones agonizing in their absence, I raise my camera. One by one the ten bridesmaids walk down the lawn in their cobalt blue heels, each one praying that she stays upright.

Friday, June 29, 7:05 p.m.  We stand. Wes walks his youngest daughter to her future. I take about 20 pictures of Zack, capturing the sunrise of his smile. This ceremony is invested with meaning, with solemn joy. Bridesmaids wipe their eyes. I’m needing air in my lungs. This is the moment that restricts my throat. The Daddy (as we who have read Mma Ramotswe books say) comes to that moment when all things change. He kisses his darling girl, he shakes the groom’s hand. And he steps back. Exhale. And then Addie’s fingers are linked in Zack’s. Her eyes only strayed from Zack when the pastor was talking directly to her. The homily was like the best-crafted novel. The tone was heavier than most wedding sermons, creating tension. This is all true, but why here? Why now? I wondered. And then Pastor Sumpter began resolving that tension, weaving truth into a magnificent strand, bringing it home with grace.

Friday, June 29, 7:35 p.m.  The kiss! Whoa. It began like most kisses begin, but then it changed. He dipped her, tango-style, and that man kissed his wife! Applause breaks forth. The bride and groom stand, facing the guests, irrepressible smiles. They are Married! The slightest pause, before the music begins, signalling a change in the mood. Party On!

Friday, June 29, 8:45 p.m.  Dad, dad, granddad, brother, brother, and cousin give toasts that also set this wedding apart from a typical wedding. A poem crafted for the occasion, wise words, funny comments, closing with a prayer from The Book of Common Prayer. Words that widen the moment, another dividend from the huge investment made by both families. After all the glasses have been lifted, we move to the lawn. Darkness has settled down into a comfortable sprawl. Tiki torches punctuate the fence, candles on tables keep winking. The dancing mimics the ceremony, a final reprise. The Daddy and Addie dance, smiling. Zack and Addie dance, singing to each other, encapsulated in their love. Guests join on the dance lawn. With each new song, the volume increases, the arms get higher. No DJ was needed to talk into mikes and direct traffic. At the appointed time, fireworks fill the sky. Zack and Addie run to their car under a canopy of sparklers held by the guests. Oh glorious day!

 

 

Photos are on Facebook. 

The wedding homily.

The rehearsal dinner recipes.