Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Our Trip to Yorkshire (Part 3)

Okay, the last pre-wedding photos are here. First, the pattern for the girls' bridesmaids dresses. Both Starman and I really wanted to have his two nieces (well, he has three, but we meant the ones under 18!) and Coffee Jones's daughter (Beanette) as bridesmaids. That's a lovely English tradition -- think of Diana's bridesmaids, all under 14. Starman's nieces are just right for this important role: The "Senior Bridesmaid" is Lucy, who will be nearly 12 on the day. Beanette (the "American Bridesmaid") will be 8. Amelia (the "Lively Bridesmaid") will be 4 going on 30. (Seriously -- while we were there, she got a pair of high heels from her godmother, and she went to town wearing them! I can't manage shoes like that, that's for sure.)

I found some gorgeous fabric for their dresses -- white lawn embroidered with periwinkle sprigs. The sashes will be in the same deep blue peau de soie as Coffee Jones' "crone of honour" dress. We picked Style "D" (the dress in the lower left corner) -- very simple, but with a poufy skirt. We've picked very pretty white sweaters for the girls: White cotton cardigans, cropped short (like a bolero but not too extreme) so that they'll fit the Empire waist. The details are lovely: Scalloped crocheted edges all around, and lovely seed pearl details, all very age appropriate.

Now, this isn't the floral selection that Elspeth, our crack florist, is putting together, but these are what the girls will be wearing in their hair, at least stylistically. Lucy (Senior Bridesmaid) and Beanette will have the hair bands. Amelia will have the chaplet of flowers, which Elspeth -- a traditionalist at heart -- would like her to wear as a crown on her forehead, rather than as a halo back on her hair. Amelia, it should be pointed out, used to have lovely blonde curls but she took some scissors to her hair, and now she's sporting a rather shorter `do. Still cute as a button, of course.

In fact, all three girls are delightfully pretty without in any way suggesting a Ralph Lauren ad. I've told our photographer, Damian, that this is NOT a bride-centric event. I picked him, in fact, because his website had the best photos of the children in the party. You can check his work out for yourself; he has a lovely slideshow set to some tinkly new age piano music. (I like that sort of stuff, but if you don't, just turn it off.)

You know, I've thought a lot about all this. This isn't my first wedding (technically, it's not even my second...) and yet it's the one with the fancy dress, music, flowers, etc. Isn't this a bit odd for me at my age? (52 on Friday, in case you didn't know.) It's not cheap (cough cough) and I don't feel rich at the moment. I don't really think of myself as a conspicuous consumption kind of gal.

But Starman's brother and sister-in-law's wedding pictures are all over the place -- in a very tasteful way, of course -- and it's such a nice anchor to family and a particular point in your life. Plus, I gather that the third niece -- now 21 -- was the tiny bridesmaid in that wedding, and had a blast. So much so that Lucy has really wanted to be a bridesmaid for the longest time. She'll do a great job, as will Beanette and Amelia. And everyone will have the photographs for decades to come. Which makes this whole wedding worth it.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Our Trip to Yorkshire (Part 2)

Here's Starman (and cartoon passenger) in an antique car. Sorry, "motor." It's a motor because it's a display (one of the few you were allowed to touch) at the Heritage Motor Museum in the Midlands, where British Leyland (among other car companies) were located. We had driven there to meet up with Starman's sister and her young son, Sam, who's car mad.

Poor Sam was disappointed that the museum didn't have Lamborghinis and Ferraris (his favorites, of course). As it happened, the discount outlet near Michael's house in North Yorkshire had shiny new Italian sports cars (one of each) on display, promoting some scheme where you pay £99 (about $200) and drive the car of your choice on a closed course. So we promised him we'd take photos of those cars for him to drool over. I am relieved to report that I have actually sent those photos off to him!

I promised you some photos of a really nice house. From the outside, this just looks like a pleasantly traditional Yorkshire farm house. I gather our hostess, Georgina, and her husband were able to buy it from her mother. The husband (who went to the same college at Oxford as Starman, albeit a few years later) is an electrical engineer, so Georgina says she has electrical outlets -- called power points over there -- everywhere she could possibly want them.

The first photo is of the view off their music room. Yes, they have multiple "reception" rooms, as they're called over there. I rather assume there's a proper sitting room on the other side of the main floor. We were shepherded through a TV room into this lovely room, complete with grand piano and Georgina's harp.

Georgina is our harpist for our wedding. Starman, who's a bit more knowledgeable about music than I am, was assigned the job of locating and booking some sort of music that would please him. Georgina is the result, and I think we (and our guests of course) will be very happy.

I didn't feel comfortable photographing Georgina while she was playing, but isn't the harp pretty in this room? (The piano is opposite the harp, so it's behind me and not in the picture.) There were horses out in the barn; Georgina explained that they don't own that much land, but the farmer who has the adjoining field lets them put their horses out there.

The room was lovely and gracious. Mike & Bryony's sitting room is just as nice, of course, but it's homelier. (That's a compliment in the UK, btw.)

Bryony had a wonderful idea to use a digital recorder in the room where we're getting married. She said she and Mike did that, and the result is lovely. You get the music, of course, but also the sound of the guests arriving and settling in. I gather Mike & Bryony listen to their wedding every year on their anniversary.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Our Trip to Yorkshire (Part 1)

Very interesting discussion about goals in the previous post's comments section. I agree that living a good, happy, productive and ethical life is paramount. I still have a nagging sense that I ought to be more goal oriented. That's just me. But I don't have an answer to my own question, so moving on...

It must surely be the case that ONE goal I should adopt is uploading photos to this blog a lot faster. Starman and I have been back from England for a couple weeks, and this is the first you're hearing of how the trip went.

Well, it was wet. Very wet. Not quite biblical proportions wet, but getting there. It rained every other day that we were there. When it wasn't raining, it looked resentful that it wasn't.

Starman's brother Mike & family live in a tiny village south of York called Naburn. It's on the River Ouse, which was rising to near-flood stage. I gather nothing actually bad happened, although the road we took out of town on our last day there was just beginning to flood to impassibility. We felt like we got out just in time.

Here's the River at the boat slip in the village. Ordinarily, you can walk all the way down past these buildings. You can see that flooding is not unheard of in these parts, though -- you wouldn't put a window any lower down than they have.

I don't have a photo of the house near here where the front door is a good twelve inches up from the ground. Nor one of another house that had sandbags along the bottom of the garage door.

I gather Mike's house is just a big higher than some of his neighbors. Certainly we were lovely and toasty warm and dry while we were there.

A close-up of the swans on the swollen river. It just wasn't very good sightseeing weather, plus we were there primarily to get some wedding planning chores sorted out. So, no stately homes this time. (I do have a photo for a future post of a really fine private residence -- I know all Americans think all Brits live this way, but it just isn't so. Still, when you meet one who does, it's nice to see.)

What else did we do? We had a lovely excursion to Harrogate, a charming town -- even when dripping wet -- near where we're getting married. We had lunch at the famous Betty's, a tea shoppe & lunchroom that is usually so packed there's a queue to get in. The weather was our friend that day -- no queue!

We visited the florist (more on that in another post) and ordered the wedding cake. Yes, that's right -- no cake making for me this time. Given than there are roughly three desserts for this event (the "pudding," which is the generic term used to describe any dessert, chocolates served with coffee, and the wedding cake itself) I opted for a pleasant three-tiered vanilla/white chocolate sponge cake with raspberry filling. Elspeth, our florist, will put flowers on it, and it will be fine.

Also on the must-do list was picking out suits for the groom & his best man. There's a "designer outlet" near Naburn, so we went along to a tailor there and selected a serviceable gray suit. I still need to find ties and shirts to match, but the tailoring was the real chore: Mike is 6'5", so not a standard length.

Otherwise, it was all about family. Starman has two sisters and a brother; they have five children among them, ranging in age from 21 to 4. We were able to see them all, which is really nice for both of us. I don't have photos of everyone, but they'll all be at the wedding, so you'll get inundated with pics then.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Question

If you knew (for sure!) that you were going to accomplish something really important to you in the next couple of years, what would it be? That's not The Question, though. If you are already working on a goal, that would just be the nice reassuring message you needed to tell you that you were actually going to make it.

The Question -- the one I'm struggling with -- is this: If you knew you were going to accomplish something really important in the next couple of years, and you didn't have a goal already in process or even in mind, then what would your goal be?

I'm struggling with this because of something I read at Susan Miller's astrology website. Now, before my sceptic readers get all worked up about how astrology is hooey, let me say this: I don't care. I figure it this way: if I set a goal today and work hard to accomplish it for the next two years all because an astrology website told me I would accomplish it, who cares? This isn't like reading "you will win the lottery" and then quitting your job on the "strength" of that prediction. It's good to have a goal, and we should all be working on them as though we're going to accomplish them.

I just don't know what my goal is.

Which is not to say I live an aimless life. I work really hard on short-term and long-term projects, some of great significance to me. I've been working for thirty years (more or less) to figure out what happened to me during my childhood, large chunks of which are missing. Maybe that's what I'm going finally to accomplish, which would be great. Uncomfortable to be sure (in the "you will experience some discomfort" sense so beloved by medical professionals), but liberating and glorious all the same. It's just not what I think of as a goal, though.

The website suggested a work-related goal. I don't have professional goals anymore. This worries me. There used to be things I wanted to do, like write a book. Those desires have cooled, though, and I'm not sure I can fire them back up. So what takes their place? It's not right for someone my age (I turn 52 in a couple weeks) not to know the answer to The Question.

One reason this is so hard is that I struggle with accomplishments generally. I've blogged about this already: I shy away from tasks that are hard, and discount my abilities with completing tasks that come easy. Not precisely a recipe for goal-oriented activities.

I will say this, though: I picked the right man to marry. I asked Starman The Question last night, and he didn't have an answer either.

How about you? I want to know what goals you have for the next two years. If that's too personal to ask on a blog, answer this one: If a website told you that you were going to accomplish your most important goal in the next couple of years, would you know what goal that was?