Armchair Wedding Dress Commentator

My interest in English history has made Anglophiles of my children.  There are three shelves in our library with English histories from the Angevins to the Tudors.  No Stuart history for me.  As much as I'm a republican, I have no stomach when it comes to chopping off the king's head.

No surprise that Friday morning dawned with all the females in the family watching the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  If there's one thing that the Brits do well, it's pageantry.  Precise and punctual.  Every details exquisite.

And her dress!  Did you see her dress?  William was right to whisper "Beautiful" when Kate had processed to the altar.

Her dress proved that a woman can be sexy without being slutty, stately without being stuffy.  Please, American women, follow Kate's lead!

Not that Carolyn Bessett looked slutty when she married John-John but as with many other things that Americans take to extremes, there has been a steady decline in decorum in brides' choices of wedding dresses.  What started as a trend of mannequin-built brides showing off the dedication to diet, exercise, and healthy genes has devolved into backless dresses that show too much decoletee, either in front with breasts or in rear with buttocks.

Weddings used to be solemn occasions celebrated in churches.  Hotels, parks, judges chambers have been pressed into service when the happy couple considers themselves free from the restraints of the Church.  Yet they still invoke the same rites and, in some cases, words that are heard in a church. 

Who in her right mind would wear a sleeveless or backless or VPL-denying swatch of drapey or clingy material under God's roof?  Again, it goes back to Carolyn and John.  Where once women showed respect by at least wearing a lace bolero during the service and shedding it for the reception, now every woman wants to show off her sculpted body - front, side and back.

Hurray for Sarah Burton, she of the House of Skulls!  Kate's dress was reminiscent of Grace Kelly's, another commoner who married a prince. 
I'm hoping this heralds the beginning of a new age of restraint and respect in weddings across America.


No Noise Is Good Noise

Technology is amazing.  Apparently the forecasters are able to predict days in advance the massive storms, whether snowpocalypse in the mid-Atlantic two years ago or the tornadoes across the South in the last few days.  An update from FEMA came to my email inbox yesterday warning about severe storm in Alabama today.

After leaving work early today in advance of a possible tornado watch, I couldn't tear my eyes away from the computer.  The streaming weather report from a news station in Birmingham ran in the background as other weather sites were checked.  The long track tornado began in eastern Mississippi following I-20/59 northeast through downtown Tuscaloosa, near the airport in Birmingham, and the United Methodist Church in Goshen.

Watching the videos that became available, my mind raced to my childhood, growing up traveling those roads, visiting those towns with my parents to visit family friends, eating at the Krispy Kreme in Tuscaloosa.  I know those places.  As the tornado made its way along the general path of the interstate, I didn't want to stop watching until it was certain that my hometown was safe.  As a genealogist, my concern and worry even touched on the old graveyards where my ancestors are buried.  Who would right their headstones if the tornado hit the cemetery?

As the tornado tracked to the south of my hometown, my attention turned to possible tornadic activity a few counties away from my current home.  It's quiet out there right now.  Please no freight train noise during the night. 


Death Be Not Plowed

There has been no exercise regimen in my life since Christmas.  No ballet.  No swimming.  No free weights.  No Pilates.  Nada.  Nil.  Nothing.  Zip.  Zero.

But my doctor and my health coach (she comes with the health care plan at Mr. Gaelic's office) want me to exercise to help reduce my cholesterol.  It's above the normal range.  Plus my LDL cholesterol is too high and my HDL is too low. 

The health coach calls me every three weeks to discuss my plan.  The first homework was to come up with a plan to exercise.  The next homework was to start implementing the plan.  My plan, it turns out, was overly ambitious.  It fell flat just two days into it.  Actually it fell into the couch halfway through the 15-minute exercise DVD along with my assertions of "I'm gonna die.  I can't breathe.  She's trying to kill me."

Today's plan was to take a nice slow-paced bike ride along the bike trail into the city.  The problem was all the rain last night created a very humid morning.  Riding next to the river and the low-hanging fog made it all the worse, bordering on Amazonian-rain-forest humidity.

It wasn't until the bike route turned away from the river that the perspiration on my arms, and tummy, and back, and forehead, and you get the picture, began to dry.  By the time I reached the office garage, it was like riding on a nice spring day.  No more feeling like a draught horse tied to a plow.


What Does It Say About Me?

If you're new to The Writer's Kaffeeklatsch, about three months ago my left ring finger was shattered in a fall on icy steps.  The ER cut off my wedding rings.  A few days later the doctor operated and inserted five pins into one little tiny bone.  Two months of physical therapy have led to increased mobility.  Yet my finger still isn't straight and won't bend to touch the palm of my hand without help.

My wedding rings were cut into halves -- the engagement ring is in two pieces and the wedding band is in two pieces.  The tragedy isn't my still-swollen finger; it's the loss of my grandmother's wedding band.

Even when my finger has been wrapped in the baby Ace bandage, the knuckle is very swollen.  The physical therapist measured it last week.  My finger was originally a size 6.  Now it's a 9 1/2.  My heart sank when she told me that.

Yet I still have my mother's wedding rings.  We have the same size fingers.  Or at least we did until this. 

One of my friends wear his wedding ring on his right hand because his wife is European and that's the custom where she's from.  There's an idea!  My mother's rings went over my right ring knuckle with a little effort.  But not so much that it was painful.  And there they'll stay until my left ring finger is back to some semblance of normalcy.

A quick search online for a photo of right-hand wedding rings happened upon the "meanings" of wearing the rings on the right hand.  Some possibilities are:
  • Widowhood
  • Left-handedness
  • Sentimentality for family heirlooms
  • Infidelity
  • Gays or lesbians
  • Cultural, specifically Polish, Colombian, Greek, Indian, or Eastern Orthodox
Well, well, well.  Are those all the possibilities?  That's all my search turned up.  Maybe I'll start a new trend.  Who says your wedding rings have to be on your left hand anyway?


De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da

Look at the calendar.  It's Maundy Thursday.  Not only did Jesus partake of the Last Supper with his disciples, He washed their feet.  Then He told them to do the same amongst themselves.  His new commandment was to love one another as He loved them.

In the late morning, Deirdre and I trekked to the Army Medical Center where the wounded warriors from Afghanistan and Iraq are sent to heal to the point of returning to their families.  The purpose of the visit was to deliver Girl Scout cookies from several troops in the city.  Some of the younger troops made signs and cards for the warriors.  Deirdre, being older, was allowed onto the floors to interact with the warriors themselves.

The first warrior we met had no legs, as did the second.  The third was in a neck brace and two full length leg casts.  Our escort prepared us at each room with the injuries and the length of their stay up to now.  Our fourth warrior has been at the Medical Center since July.  He has no legs and only one arm.  During our visit, waves of pain washed over his face but he tried not to express it.  Instead we talked about the planes he used to jump out of.

The last warrior we saw in that wing had been shot and can't move his arm due to the nerve damage.

"How long have you been here?"

"I got shot on the 11th."

Ten days ago.  And here he is, thousands of miles away from the fighting.  Having a Girl Scout give him cookies.

At the evening service, the seminarian preached about being in a clinical pastoral internship last summer.  In pedagogical terms, the internship was "do, reflect, do".  He quickly learned, in his life, that could also be phrased as "receive, give, receive".

The sermon was poignant in its timing.  In doing something that I considered to be giving of ourselves, Deirdre and I received untold riches in a few brief moments with those men.  In doing, we receive.  I want to do and do and do some more.

[Blog title taken from this song.]


Easy Like (Palm) Sunday Mornin'?

The subtitle of today's blog could be "Hey, Mom! There's goop on my forehead!"

Remember your history?  Remember how the Puritans in Massachusetts forbade the celebration of Christmas?  Growing up as a Southern Baptist in the South, the church didn't celebrate Christmas with a church service unless December 25th happened to fall on a Sunday.  We also didn't celebrate Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, or Good Friday.  They were considered too "Catholic".  Never mind that as a current Episcopalian, the church celebrates those holy days but without the authority of the Bishop of Rome, or the Pope, depending on which side of the Reformation you sit.

Today, in case you missed it, is Palm Sunday.  It's the day that the Church remembers Jesus' triumphant procession into Jerusalem.  We carry palm fronds and crosses woven from palm leaves as a reminder that the people laid palm branches and cloaks on the road as Jesus rode into Jerusalem.  It's very celebratory.

But then something gets in the way.  You see, Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week which culminates in seven days on Easter.  In between, Jesus will celebrate Passover with his disciples (Maundy Thursday), be arrested, tried, and executed (Good Friday).  Finally to rise again in the promised Resurrection (Easter).

That's not what gets in the way, however.  What gets in the way is that people don't or won't attend church this week on Thursday and Friday.  In order to have the Easter story on Easter Sunday, somehow we have to get Jesus from the triumph of Palm Sunday to the trials of Good Friday.  So the Palm Sunday service becomes dysfunctional in attempting to celebrate Jesus, institute the rite of communion, and crucify him all in one fell swoop of a service.

It wasn't until I was sitting in the 5:00 p.m. service this afternoon that I realized I really don't like the Palm Sunday liturgy.  Especially since I plan to attend church on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  And this year at our parish, there's even a Holy Saturday service for the "forgotten" day of Easter.

A couple of things made up for the week's worth of liturgy packed into one service.  The 5:00 p.m. service is much higher church than the other services at our parish.  Incense carries our prayers heaven-ward while a sung liturgy hearkens back to the early Church.  After communion, parishioners are invited into the side chapel for a laying on of hands for healing. 

The 5:00 service was my first choice following the shattering of my finger back in January.  Having a priest lay hands on my head and pray for healing and health brings me comfort and peace.  Yet today, the priest did something that I don't remember from other healing services.  He rubbed his thumb in the chrism and made the sign of the cross on my forehead before laying his hands on my head and praying for my continued healing.

Five weeks ago there were ashes in the exact same place and design reminding me that I am but dust and to dust I will return.  Now the olive-and-balsam oil is anointing me with healing strength.  The same questions from Ash Wednesday creep into my thoughts. 

Do I wash it off or let it wear away on its own?  It's an outward sign of an inward contemplation, although nowhere nearly as obvious as a big black smudge.  I can see the shiny cross on my forehead in the mirror because I know what I'm looking for.  Like the Turkish rug merchant showing a buyer the slightest imperfection, it's my disclaimer before God that I need His healing grace.


Mutually Exclusive

Would you rather:
  • Take a pill everyday that would provide your body with the exact vitamins, minerals, and calories and guarantee perfect health and weight but never be able to eat anything ever again OR never have perfect health and weight but eat anything you wanted?
  • Have power but little money OR have money but little power?
  • Pay $8 for a gallon of water OR pay $8 for a gallon of gas?
  • Be blind OR be deaf?
  • Live in Khartoum, Sudan OR live in Yakutsk, Siberian Russia?
  • Be only 4 feet tall OR be 7 1/2  feet tall?
  • Always have summer OR always have winter?
  • Live in a fascist society OR live in a communist society?
  • Have polluted rivers OR have polluted air?
  • Die of cancer OR die of a heart attack?
  • Have all mountains leveled OR have the Grand Canyon become the Grand Lake?
  • Have no more movies OR have no more books?
Either/or.  Black or white.  No middle ground.  Which shall it be?


Ticking Away the Moments That Make Up a Full Day

Sixteen hours!  In one day! 

Yep, that's right.  My day began on Friday morning at 8:30 a.m.  It ended at 12:30 a.m. Saturday.  The airline reservations were confirmed at 12:15 a.m.  This is how work weeks creep above 60 hours.  With early mornings (like Tuesday at 7:30) and late nights (like tonight). 

I'm about to do an impression of a bear during winter.  My cave-bed is calling.  There's nothing on my calendar until church on Sunday morning.  Of course, there's always the Sunday 5:00 p.m. service.  It would allow for several more hours of hibernation.


The Touch, The Feel of Gaelic

There are five senses.  Yet there are only four here so far in my non-Bucket List list.  There have been sight, sound, smell, and taste.  Have you ever realised that most of your senses are located in the head region?  The only one that covers more than just the head region is touch. 

What is on my want-to-feel-before-I-die list?  This:
  • The Dead Sea keeping me afloat
  • My grandbaby's soft skin
  • The wind from a tornado as I chase the storm (with a professional, of course)
  • Spray from the ocean on my face while sailing in the Greek Isles
  • The silkiness of my daughters' wedding dresses
  • Sheets made of silk
  • Weightlessness
  • Cool dirt while digging for truffles
  • Spongy trails as the elevation increases on Denali
  • My wedding rings on my left ring finger (they were cut off when I shattered the bone in my finger and won't be repaired until there is no more swelling in my finger)
That's also an update on my finger.  The pins are beginning to hurt under the skin.  They'll need to come out at some point.  When I make a fist, my finger still sticks out at an odd angle.  But physical therapy is continuing and small progress is made each week.  As the professionals tell me, it may take a year before my finger is stabilized.  And it may never be back to normal -- in size or in how straight it is.

Perhaps Number 11 on the list should be "a day without pain in the finger."  But whining doesn't feel so good either.  So we'll stop at Ten.