Wedding Reviews

Tis time for fun memories.  Most of you know I study romantic comedies from classics like, “When Harry Met Sally” to recent one’s like “The Big Wedding” and whatever catches my attention.

In decades past, romance novels were practically required to have a Happily Ever After ending often portrayed as a wedding. Fortunately the stories have changed as readers’ expectations are not always favorable toward weddings. Actually, sometimes weddings are the worst! Drama! Emotions running wild! Even when everything goes great there are layers of stories behind the photos. So for your amusement I’m sharing tidbits of three weddings from the past decade when I was the mother-of-the-bride.

The Big Wedding was the most recent.  The father of the groom is a wealthy businessman with two sons and he wanted an EVENT so he paid for doubling the guest list in addition to an excessive amount of booze. The bridesmaids all loved their dresses but looking past the royal blue for the day, one woman is a CPA, another a LMT, one blond is a bank loan manager the other a beauty consultant. There’s also an optician, a cupcake baker, and a HR manager.  The men represent a broad flavor of careers from minister to stock broker, computer sales, food services, construction, and more.  The bridal party also included two flower girls, a ring bearer, and a junior bridesmaid who escorted the dog.

Adding to the story of this (above) picture, one woman is newly pregnant and kept it secret until stripping out of her dress after the pictures were done so she could breathe. Sadly, the groom’s beloved grandfather died only weeks before this event but there was a tribute shrine and tearful toasts to him at the reception.

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The Outdoor/Theme Wedding happened on a Tuesday afternoon so the bride and groom could always celebrate their anniversary on the Summer Solstice. Men In Kilts! The men were all part of a competitive band in their younger days. Though this was a tight budget affair, the groom is also a professional chef so the food was outstanding. The location included a large pond with pedal boats and the bride did pedal around the pond in her wedding gown.  They had originally planned to wed in a rustic campground in the mountains but the roads were washed out during the winter and a new location had to be found three months before the day, and it was so much better! Guests came to Oregon from Ohio and Alaska and it was the only sunny day during the entire month of June.

The Small Wedding was the first for our family and riddled with drama; recent funerals, uninvited guests, emotional issues! Fortunately the actual event was delightful and everyone had a great time.  Even now, ten years later, we still cringe at some of the memories. The main story worth repeating about this event is that after the honeymoon the groom had a growth on his neck checked then immediately began treatment for aggressive lymphoma. Yes, he survived and has been cancer free since, they are still thriving and darling together.

It is impossible for me to look at a wedding photo and not wonder about all the stories behind the smiles. As big a deal as a wedding might be as a “rite of passage” event in our journey through life, it’s really just a party and not a HEA. The marriage deserves the celebration but it’s not an ending in any way, it’s the beginning of a grand adventure.

This is why I love reading and writing romance novels, and the requirement of studying romantic comedy films. Love happens all around us and the stories are limitless and unique!

Renovation

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Mercury is in a retrograde season, as are Mars and Saturn. This is a nudge from the planets to review, research, rewind, renew, and the “re” word-of-your-choice.

The rocks Ed is standing on with our dog and 7-yr-old grandson are only accessible during low tide. This image is how I feel about retro energy as it reminds us to go-with-the-flow. We have the opportunity to look beneath the waves and know there is both a solid foundation and sandy streams that are often hidden with the currents.

Natures rhythms are not something to fear unless they include earthquakes, hurricanes, eruptions, bolts, and turbulence. These phases are reminders to communicate clearly, relax, and be aware that all actions have a reaction. Sometimes it’s a boomerang reaction, sometimes it’s delayed, but if you inhale you need to exhale and I always recommend doing both.

Renovation has been the theme of my life for the past year and we are in the process of the building a small home, the one we debated and dithered about for six years because we couldn’t picture what to build. It was like a blank canvas (actually a plot of scrub grass) and we only had a clear vision of needing a flush toilet and a large metal building to store the toys of my family for summer camp outs. Now we are creating a nice living space to be comfortable in all seasons. Alas, we now have to remove that flush toilet and cut through four inches of concrete to correct the drainage. This is another example of retrograde energy – deconstruct and rebuild.

I’ve learned to appreciate pause and review retrograde seasons, though this one has a strong “spinning wheels” flavor. That term was coined about fifty years ago because the cars were designed so if you had one foot on the gas and the other foot on the brake the tires would spin and burn a lot of rubber, going nowhere. While I am spinning my wheels I can look around and see that I am creating a fun future I would never have dreamed of, despite the sewage issues.

I’ve heard a few people state they are “living the dream” yet the sarcasm is strong when they say it. I don’t understand the appeal of chasing dreams when creating something is tangible and vibrant. Now I’ll close with the nasty RE word, responsibility. It is required. Be responsible for your happiness, your life. Creating because of a dream requires actions and often – renovations.

Mom’s Day

This sat on Mom's counters in the back room where she spent more of her days.

This sat on Mom’s counters in the back room where she spent more of her days.

We still honor my Mom’s Birthday every Feb 1st because her energy is still very much a part of who we are and we believe she likes it. In the first years, the celebration mirrored many during her life with us getting together for a spaghetti dinner and apple pie. Then we realized instead of a big party, Mom would rather we do something special for ourselves in her honor.

On Feb 1st, 2010, I already had a website and a blog but that morning I felt it was time to become an author-business, instead of a writing hobby, so I submitted forms to the state online. My sister and I wondered when it would be official then, less than two hours later, I got the confirmation with a DBA registry number and everything.

In 2013, I delayed signing my first publishing contract for my debut novel for two days so it was dated Feb 1st. By my birthday that May I was already negotiating the publishing contract for the AM101 marketing workbook with my partner. Both books were released a week apart in September.

In recent months I’ve been proactive with my writing projects and business strategies. This will enable me to present my diverse projects into one brand for a new website and future promotions as these projects turn into books. My only plan today was to upgrade my cell phone to a smart phone.

However, Mom added her touch today. Mainly our eldest daughter had a great change of plans happen – long story but she knew it was because of Feb 1st. For me, the RWR (Romance Writers Report) magazine arrived today and I’m in the list for my debut novel, and as officially a PAN member (the RWA Published Author Network) which is pretty cool.

I met The Bloggess

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Jenny and me! As she autographed her new book – Powell’s 11/14/2015

I found The Bloggess shortly after I started blogging in 2009. I was looking around this online world to see if it was a venue for me that would benefit my writing. I wanted to see what established bloggers posted.

Jenny Lawson as The Bloggess was wild, ribald, and ridiculous. I was hooked on her voice and in awe of her persona. Her topics are cringe worthy reading that produce guffaws more than snickers, and dozens to hundreds of comments by her followers were almost as good as the posts. I seldom made a comment as I couldn’t add to or improve on anything already in the threads.

Two years ago I featured her and her memoir in the Author Marketing 101 article on nonfiction personas.  Last year I featured Let’s Pretend This Never Happened on my blog.  In April this year, I shared her Bravery by any other name  post on Facebook.

So it was a really big deal for me to spend hours at the Powell’s Jenny Lawson event last night, it’s been on my calendar for months. I would be there no matter what life tossed in my way. And it was Great! A true Fan Girl experience.  And I have the picture to prove it!

However, as much as I admire Jenny as an author and businesswoman, it was meeting her fans that made the biggest impact on me. The event was standing-room-only and the floor roped off, as at the capacity limit, for hours. Jenny’s fans are real people with personal, emotional, and physical challenges who suffer with depression, disorders, phobias and manias. Now they have an example of how to step out of the shadows and help themselves and each other. Through Jenny’s authenticity and humor they have a voice, an advocate who tells it like it is! Jenny’s fans are also the counselors, friends and family who are helping dissolve the mental illness stigma.

There’s a wonderful speech on You Tube as Jenny accepts the “2014 NoStigmas Hero Award” (via skype) on behalf of everyone who shares the battle to be “Furiously Happy” in spite of horrible things.

About Doors

closet doorOne door closes, another opens – or sometimes it’s a window. I’m the type to open and close them instead of waiting for some karmic event to squeak the hinges. Sometimes I’ve had more than one door or window propped open and have been reprimanded for being scattered with too many projects in pfront door-flower potsrocess at a time. However, I’ve been blogging since 2009 so the family events; of two weddings, two funerals, three new homes, and three new grandbabies, are recorded in the posts that also include publishing two books, lots of traveling, a new dog, plus a variety of conferences and writerly business events.

It’s now the first anniversary since I held the author copies of my novel in my hands. Only one year?  It’s two years since it was published in digital but now books get autographed and placed in readers hands! It’s pretty awesome and those years while life was whirling through all those open doors and windows is now research. Plus, we have new doors!

kit doors 002We have new kitchen cabinet doors, knotty pine interior doors, and a lovely new main entrance.  Feng Shui recommends making small shifts to our décor so the chi energy changes its flow gently through our new living or working space, or we can become scattered. But this hasn’t happened for me because I was thrilled to relax and admire all the new doors and décor while working on a strategic plan for my author business.

cabin 002Sometimes doors need to be replaced or re-purposed, like my office door. This door was painted by a teen daughter. Now that full door picture of grass, butterflies and sunshine is the stand-up craft table in my “writing studio” cabin. It rests on two bookcases and I can stand and write while having all type of reference materials spread within easy reach. Having this cabin in the woods behind my home is pretty awesome though it wasn’t built for my use, or as a studio. The hinges don’t squeak when I open the door, which is daily now, and makes me feel settled.

Currently Reading: Wool by Hugh Howey (at the midpoint and it’s amazing.)

Recently viewed: Bridge of Spies (Excellent!)

More than wilderness

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The Old Faithful Inn from the walkway around the geyser. That looks like a safe distance, but the Snow Lodge is really close that I wonder if the foundations rumble.

Here’s a few more pictures from our adventure in Yellowstone. The buildings and architecture were amazing, so much so that I didn’t take many pictures.

The entrance of the Inn brings the wilderness inside.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the interior of Old Faithful Inn but this representation of the balcony supports does give a flavor of grandeur to be experienced.

The Old Faithful Inn is an impressive complex of sleeping, eating, shopping, and more (Huckleberry Ice Cream!) with an attached museum and discovery center. It’s built to withstand brutal winters, thousands of international tourists, and constant geothermal activity. I am fascinated by historical and innovative architecture and love that the collection of structures are famous more for their design than because they are located within an active volcano.

You can see professional photos of the park and buildings on the main website. My brother didn’t bring a camera to specifically buy books at the park that include stories. Still, his wife and daughter took hundreds of photos with their phones.

This picture of a clock on the rock chimney was a delight because it’s really artistic and a bit dramatic in its representation of linear time.

This picture of a clock on the rock chimney was a delight because it’s really artistic and a bit dramatic in its representation of linear time.

We learned that many of the staff are in some type of National Park Employee service organization and can choose to return for seasonal jobs or even go to other parks. It sounds like a very efficient system and many have made it their career, even as retirees. We chatted with rangers and restaurant servers who have chosen to dedicate their lives to their tasks because of where they get to live.  It’s awesome to chat with people who are clear about their life purpose no matter how long it may last, or how old they are to be doing their jobs.

Ylstn 257The Lake Yellowstone Hotel was built in a different decade and with the objective of a summer resort. It’s over 120 years old and has a historical and current list of world leaders and celebrities that have enjoyed the views and suites. To eat in the famous restaurants requires making a reservation for dinner when you book the room, or hope for an open table around nine or ten at night.

Courtesy of Melissa M

Courtesy of Melissa Markert

The pianist favored classics and show tunes. The acoustics were great for this grand piano and the singers didn’t need microphones. That’s my niece, who is a professional singer, and her brother. They had fun and other guests in the room had a great time. One was a photographer who gifted us with a group shot, of our family with the pianist, in thanks.

There’s a few more pictures I’ll share soon. The adventures have continued yet we are all trying to return to our normal routines. I expect that we’ll frame some of our life stories to be “before Yellowstone” and “after Yellowstone” because events like this trip do have ripple effects.

Getting in Shape

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Decorative arrangements I created for a daughter’s wedding.

The summer season is here and Ed and I have been preparing for our adventure in Yellowstone, which will include living out of our travel trailer for almost two weeks. Five of those days will be in one spot and joined by family. Preparations have included getting his truck detailed (super cleaned inside and out) and having racks installed so we can take our bikes and kayaks.

The weather has been good for outdoor activities which means we’ve been riding our bikes and kayaking. This past weekend Arkkade had her maiden voyage with me as I paddled my kayak around the lake for almost an hour. She seemed to like it though she didn’t settle in one place and her moving from side-to-side, front and back, added to the rocking motion but fortunately the lake was very calm.

Ed’s also been getting our yard into shape by cutting back years of thick overgrowth and renting a tractor to move rocks and pull out roots so he can have an easy to maintain lawn. This was fun for me to watch as it reminded me of when we first moved here (in 1998) and he rented a bobcat to clear overgrowth, move rocks to frame garden areas, and dig a duck pond. Now that was all being cleared because our lifestyle has changed.

Silk flower strips wrapped around wire tomato plant racks.

Silk flower strips wrapped around wire tomato plant racks. For a little spot at our weekend place.

I’ve also been getting a few of my writing projects into shape and it’s rather awesome that this is now my primary work. It used to be that I scheduled in writing and reading time around my other activities, now I’m searching for activities as a break from writing. Fortunately I remembered today that I used to have fun with potted plant arrangements when the weather wasn’t good for outdoor stuff. There were a few years when it was like a mini rain-forest inside my home but then I was traveling too much. As plants died or found new homes I switched to only silk flowers. Then I got too busy with writing projects and grand-babies to even notice the dust on my silk flowers. I just hosed off a bunch of those and will create something new with them.

All the getting ready busyness will settle soon and we’ll take off on our adventure, after which we should be in great shape for lots more summer activities.

Trips and Twists

Ed and I have recently been taking lots of short trips around Oregon, with our Jack Russel Terrorist, Arkkade. She is great with our grandchildren, though she’s not yet acclimated to all the other dogs around us.  She seems more content with us as “her people” and is revealing that she was trained to have manners. We’re learning how to communicate with her via consistent hand signals. This is good because we’ll be hosting the annual meeting with our airplane association, taking a multifamily trip to Yellowstone, and giving our kitchen a face-lift, all before the 4th of July.  Fun times!

I was settling into a new routine for crafting romance novels, and I even increased my online activities during March. Our spring has been long and mild so Ed was focused on trimming trees and clearing overgrowth. Then we heard the news that close friends had lost their son. We’ve been neighbors for 17 years, both at our home and our weekend place on the lake. We kayak and trail ride together.

We knew their youngest son more through them, and heard of his adventures fighting forest fires by jumping out of airplanes, and then deep-sea diving. Finally he found a less extreme passion, and was three weeks to graduation as a biochemist, when he died in an accident. Yet, our connection to this young man was even closer than we realized when one of the men from our daughter’s bridal party was also one of the speakers at the Celebration of His Life the day before Easter.

This is one of life’s twists that ripples through many, for a long time. As soon as I heard the news I didn’t want to believe it and immediately walked to their home, and learned it was true, and was able to perform at least one task to help them that day. Then I came home and packed away my romance novel projects for a few days.

When I was ready to work on a novel again I pulled out an old one, one that was a bit too personal, one that I had chosen to maybe never revisit again. It was both grueling and inspiring, as it made me revisit not only my personal past but my journey as a writer. And I stuck with editing it all the way to The End. I’m not happy with the ending but it’s now readable and I’m willing to submit it for objective feedback.

Tyler Easter yard decoSome of us have stories that we know so well, because we lived them, that we cannot view them with any objectivity. Like my friend, who in those days between learning her son was dead until after the private burial, told me how thankful she was that she had kept a journal about her son his whole life. And she was the final speaker at the Celebration of His Life because it was the first time she’d ever gotten the last word with him.

It’s a beautiful spring

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Ed and our dog with Kaedence and Robert, the youngest two of our grandchildren that inspired the name for Arkkade.

Our spring in Oregon has been very slow blooming. We had some wonderful warm days in the beginning of March and everything started to bud, but then the temps cooled. All the flowering bushes and trees have been colorful for weeks and only now are petals starting to fall. The green leaves on our oaks, maples, and cherry trees are also growing slowly. It’s been fascinating to watch and everything looks really healthy. My dogwoods are loaded with blossoms like they haven’t been for years.

This slow spring is reflecting how I am developing my new career as a romance novelist. I recently met Mary Buckham [again] and highly recommend her power plotting method and adore the new craft book about active settings.  It’s fun developing my writing process for these and future novels as it’s very different from the way I used to structure my writing time in the past.

We have a multifamily vacation to Yellowstone planned for this summer and all the details for that are finally confirmed. This is what I am using as my project deadline because even a creative process works better with a goal in sight. And there’s plenty of time to savor spring and play with babies.

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