I Now Pronounce You Hitched!

It took almost 25 years but I’m pretty sure I finally attended a wedding and reception that beat the nads off my own a-way back in 1989.

Picture, if you will, a beautiful summer day in Upstate New York. It’s 11am and you’re in a huge backyard with 4 large tents, the mouth-watering aroma of BBQ chicken and a half a hog smoking waft your way. Casually and colorfully dressed guests are seated on bales of hay. There are a lot of bare feet. The table and chairs are dressed in simple white covers and decorated with clear vases of fresh cut flowers and potted Rosemary plants. Love & Joy are indeed in the air. The celebration is already starting. Of course, Janet the Bride, was radiant. Sam the Groom was handsome. As we sat and waited for the ceremony to begin Jim commented “This crowd is exactly like what I’d picture at a Grateful Dead concert. I’ve never been to one, but this is what I imagine it would be like.” And, he was right. 200+ people all gathered together in peace and love and joy. Wait.. that’s Woodstock,. Either way. You get the idea. And when Reverend Bob pronounced the couple married, I can honestly say that in all the weddings I’ve attended over the years, I’ve never seen a Bride actually JUMP FOR JOY before sealing the deal with a kiss.

Let the party begin.

14 hours, 8 kegs, 12 bottles of champagne and I dunno how many bottles of wine later – the celebrations were still going on. We dragged ourselves away at 1am Sunday morning at which time there were still about 20 people left jamming on guitars around the campfire.

This felt to me like the perfect celebration of Love for these two friends. I felt blessed to be there and part of their special day and night. And it stands in harsh contrast to more than a few other weddings and receptions I’ve been to where the music amounted to a cd player sitting all alone in the corner barely attended to and all was done with restraint and ‘proper’ manners. Some receptions you can hardly wait to get out of. This one, you regretted having to leave.

I’ve lived where I am now (about 1/2 mile from where the wedding took place) since 1995 and only now am I starting to feel like less of an outsider. I’m slow to make friends and slow to get out and about. I’ve always hesitated going to local events for some reason. In the past month I’ve met more people and made more new local friends than I have in the past 20 years of living there. What’s changed? This thing, called Love.

Rog and I went out a fair amount early in our relationship but we lived where he grew up. He knew people. When we moved to a town halfway between our respective home towns, we had to start all over again to get to know our neighbors. Rog was always good at that. I guess I’m just too shy sometimes. I try to be friendly but always feel odd doing it. Once the kids were in school we started to meet some other young parents. Then, sadly, Rog and I went our separate ways and though we have remained Besties! it’s not the same. The kids grew up and school functions ended. Left without anyone to aid me in my socializing, I fell into the life of a homebody. On rare occasions I would go out but it was nearly always awkward and uncomfortable. I couldn’t wait to get home. I constantly wanted to know what time it was.

At Janet and Sam’s reception, I didn’t have a clue what time it was most of the time. When Jim and I finally decided to call it a night, I was shocked when we got to the car and I found out it was 1am. I never felt bored or awkward talking to anyone and I am going to credit my new relationship with Jim for getting me get out there and doing the things I want to do again. By wanting him to feel at home, make new friends and be happy, I am also finding I am feeling more at home, making new friends and being happier, too.

Here’s to Janet and Sam whose weekend of peace, love and joy has surely spilled over not just into my life but into the lives of everyone else who shared it with you. Thank you and may your marriage be blessed and joyful!

 

Strawberry Fields For Father

It was a weekend of firsts – well, A First. After living in the area nearly my entire life, I finally made my way to the Owego Strawberry Festival on Saturday. Was fortunate to get a parking space at the DMV Lot. The biggest reason I’ve never gone to this is I’ve never been with anyone who was in the least bit interested in going. Interested or not, Jim agreed to being dragged about crowded Downtown Owego. Trust me, he needs it to be socialized now and again. He’d be a hermit if I let him. In previous relationships I’ve always been the homebody-hermit half so it’s an adjustment for us both – a good one.

Anywho! The lure of strawberries and live tunes and whatever else they had there pulled us both away from our computers for a few hours and out into the sunshine amongst our fellow humanoids. Was a nice walk about, taking in the numerous tie-dye clothing vendors, jewelry hawkers, canned & baked goodies, arts & crafts to beat the band and oh.. yeah, strawberries. To be honest, had I not KNOWN it was a Strawberry Festival, I – erm – probably won’t have, well, known. I’m gonna guess there were a hundred or so vendors at this annual shindig. I think I saw five or six that were selling strawberry-related foods. Strawberry shortcake was there, of course. Strawberry Lemonade made a couple of appearances. The drink of choice at the two bars within the Festival Zone was – you guessed it, The Strawberry Daiquiri. Was hoping for a Strawberry Funnel Cake or maybe some Strawberry Ice Cream. Didn’t see any. The one place I saw that sold strawberries in the raw, as it were, was loading up their truck getting ready to leave as we walked by at about 4:00 on Saturday. I was hoping to see someone dressed as a giant strawberry making their rounds for silly pictures. Nope. *le sigh* There were a couple of good bands there, though and we enjoyed what we heard of them. Someplace you could get an air boat ride on the river but wasn’t able to really find out where it launched from.

We strolled outta there about five and ended up stopping in Candor at Iron Kettle Farm for strawberries. Was real quiet there – we’ll go back again and subject ourselves to their pumpkin madness in the fall.

Met my dad for breakfast on Sunday and after we’d solved all the world’s problems over coffee, we got onto the subject of local festivals. Owego has strawberries, Marathon has maple syrup, Newark Valley took the apple, heck even lil ol RIchford does a weekend dedicated to the potato. Binghamton has a Fairy Festival. In fact, I saw a few of their folks in Owego handing out fliers. It was REALLY hard to miss the 7 foot tall guy dressed in purple wearing matching purple fairy wings. No, he wasn’t a stilt-walker. Oh, and we can’t leave out the Scarecrow Contest held in Candor at their Fall Festival, laws no! M-O-O-N, that spells Scarecrow! Sadly, my own hometown is without a festival. Maybe Corn. They have a lot of corn out there.

A couple hours later, Dad and I parted company. I love spending time with my Dad. Always have. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more and more aware of how blessed I am when it comes to my parents. I truly could not have asked for better people to raise me. Oh, sure, they MAY have had a wild party now and then and they MAY have been such regulars at a local bar that I, at the age of around 12, could go and order a round of drinks for them without the bartender batting an eyelash, but they were always good people and always treated my brother and I fairly. They were encouraging and loving and much to my mother’s dismay – Dad and I were perhaps a bit goofier in public than she would have liked us to be. That was only on vacations, of course *cough* where Dad would apply the ‘We’re never going to see these people again” logic when Mom would strongly suggest he and I calm down. I tried to use this logic on my own kids but they didn’t quite buy into it as much as I did when young.

I’m gonna start working on getting Jim to go for it a bit more… one festival at a time.

 

 

He’s Not A French Model But…

I did meet him on the Internet.

Yup, it’s true. I’m head over heels, madly, truly, deeply in love with a man that, less than a year ago, I’d never met in person. Today, we live together. Maybe that doesn’t seem so dramatic in this day and age, but it’s the back story that’s cool.

We met in a little place called Second Life where anything and everything you can possibly imagine and quite a few things you can’t – or maybe didn’t want to – have been brought to the surface. It can be a very scary place. Everyone looks good in Second Life. We’re all young and slim and rich. We can be pirates in the 1700s one day, Native Americans in the 1800s the next then hop over and be modern day kick-ass bikers once we’re tired of being shot at by outlaws. Not to mention all the vampires and fae that seem to crop up everywhere. It’s crazy and I love it.

A Facebook friend introduced me to SL in the fall of 2010. For that first year I was a vampire on an estate called Legacies 1891. Sadly, Legos, as it is so affectionately known, closed down a while ago. I moved around a lot after that and eventually gave up the whole vampire thing in favor of the American Wild West in a place called Amiville. Had a lot of fun playing the boarding house owner but eventually that didn’t much hold my attention. I moved on to join the Native American population and that, dear friends, is where our Love Story begins.

I was a wandering Indian maiden without a tribe. He was a Cherokee. As I was about to log off for the night, I got a notice that they were having a story hour in the Cherokee village. I almost didn’t go but the Fates had other ideas. By the end of the night, my little Indian girl was madly in love with the handsome brave who had sat across from her at the fire circle. In less than a month, on Feb. 17, 2012 they were married in a traditional Cherokee wedding ceremony.

Four months later, he would drive over 1600 miles from Central TX to Upstate NY to spend a week with me. Like that virtual first night, the sparks flew as we held each other for the first time. Swear to God, I thought he was going to snap me in half. Seven months after that, I would make my first trip to the Southwest since my family had moved away in the Summer of 1966. You see – one of the odd things that we have in common is, we were both White Sands Missile Range Kids. I was born there. He was there during his high school years. Had we lived there at the same time, we would have lived less than a mile apart.

I bought a one-way plane ticket to Austin, TX. Yes, one way. You see, at the end of my ten day visit, we packed up everything we could into the smallest U-Haul that we could and drove back, half way across the country, so we could be together. In less than a week, we’ll be celebrating the one year anniversary of our first face-to-face meeting!

So far, so good. Since January 18th, 2013 we have not spent more than half a day apart. We’re still head over heels, madly, truly, deeply in love and grow more so as time goes by. He’s not a French model (nor a crazy ax murdered) but then, neither am I, but we did meet on the Internet and I’d not change that for the world.

When I Grow Up I Want To Be An Undertaker!

These probably aren’t the words most parents want to hear coming from their child, but mine heard them and I was… yes, dead serious.

Rewind to the late 1970s. Disco was hot. Hair bands were everywhere. Anne Rice and Stephen King were on the upswing and thanks to my grandmother, I’d gotten a Ouija board for my 13th birthday instead of the stack of horror books I’d picked out. No joke, kids. Gramma had told me to go pick out whatever I wanted in the store for my birthday present. I picked books. Gramma said, and I quote, “Oh, you don’t want those scary things. Let me show you what you should get.” and she marched me right back to the games aisle and picked up good old William Fuld’s Ouija Board. I really wanted the books more but who’s gonna argue with Gramma?  We got the board out that night, Grampa sat nearby shaking his head and rolling his eyes at the foolishness of it all.

I don’t remember what, if any, results we got but from that point on my interest in such things grew even more serious and intense. This was the same Gramma who told me my first remembered true ghost story from her personal experience and the same Gramma that ignored those No Tresspassing signs and found a place for me to sneak into an abandoned house (or two) and unlock the door from the inside so she could get in, too and the one who dragged me from one cemetery to the other. And my parents thought all Gramma and I ever did together was go to yard sales! BAH!  Is it any wonder I am the way I am?? Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you!

So, here I am 13 or so, heading into High School and of course, they want you to start thinking about your future. What do you want to do with your life? College? Work? Trade School? Hm? Make up your mind. No rush, you have four years before you graduate. You all know the drill. I was under pressure man and being as I had all this experience with spooky stuff, thanks to Gramma, I got the notion in my head to become a funeral director. How hard could it possibly be? Cemeteries didn’t bother me. Dead people weren’t any big deal, right?

We had a school assignment to investigate what we’d need to do to pursue a possible career path, this included interviewing people already in that occupation. This lead to the call to the funeral home. I dare say they’d never gotten a phone call like mine before then and probably not after. I could be wrong. The funeral director, let’s call him Dave – because – well, that’s his name – was happy to oblige. We set up an appointment and folks, I got the behind the scenes tour, embalming room and all. Yep… that was special, but even then I was not deterred. Nay! I would not be swayed by any of what he showed me… until…

“What sort of schooling do you have to have to do this?”

Science? What do you mean science? Human anatomy? Practically a doctorate! Gonna need some math in there too so you know how much fluid the body is going to need. Plus a two year apprenticeship. I don’t want to be a doctor, man. I just wanna take care of dead bodies. Can’t I just dress in black and hang around corpses and caskets and console people and that sorta stuff? Apparently not. Ah well, at least I got a good grade on the paper and I’ll betcha my teacher never got another one quite like it!

And so ended my career dreams as an undertaker. Knowing Funeral Director Dave would come in real handy a few years down the line when he kindly furnished the limo that was used when I was married for the first time in 1989 – free of charge!

I did manage to portray the wife of a 19th century – US Civil War – undertaker for several years while I was a reenactor. That was fun. Grossing people out as we described putting needles in people’s necks and inner thighs and draining off the blood to make room for the fluid (not formaldehyde – cuz that wasn’t invented until after the War). We met very few others of our kind on the battlefield. And this time I did get to dress in black and hang out around a coffin and pretend at least to write consoling letters to the bereaved.

Now, I find myself writing about undertakers a lot. My current book, ‘That’s What Shadows Are Made Of” features a murdered undertaker. And, I should add, I made another call to that same funeral director with some research question on it. The novel just released in February has a funeral home scene and the forth-coming ghost story features both! I don’t want to be an undertaker when I grow up anymore – I’ll just write weird stuff about them instead. It’s probably a lot more fun and I’ve never had to use algebra to do it!