Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lawyers for breakfast

Kismet and I went berry picking tonight. There is a school behind my apartment complex--their athletic fields are bordered by forest, so every morning Kizzy and I go walking there. I make sure he poos in the woods, away from any playable area, although last week we were accosted by a janitorial looking lady, accusing me of covering the field in dogpoopy. Uh. No. That would be the deer...have you ever been here at seven in the morning? Deer EVERYWHERE. Tonight the deer looked a little nervous as we approached, but they simply moved closer to the forest's edge and kept munching and pooping. I tied Kismet to an old rusty desk that sort of acted like a sheet anchor--he could move around as much as he wanted, but he couldn't move very fast--to make sure he wouldn't chase the deer from here to the Atlantic.

I must have looked like a crazy person: eighty-five degrees out, and here I am wearing jeans and a heavy fall jacket, pulling my socks up over my cuffs. I was afraid of two things: chiggers and brambles. In the eighteenth century, blackberries were known as "lawyers" because the briars dig into your skin and DO NOT LET GO. Blackberries grew in both Europe and the Americas, so they would have been familiar berries to the colonists...Native Americans cultivated them by burning off woodland undergrowth and letting the thorny brambles grow back. I had been enjoying a handful every morning as I walked Kismet, but I finally decided to take advantage of free blackberries and fill about organic.

The brambles, however, were worse than I had figured on. They would grab ahold of my limbs and wrap themselves right around, then the thorns would break off, lodged into denim. Nothing on the bushes were thorn free. The smallest branches had the sharpest, pin-like thorns, and even the leaves were deadly edged. The only thing I could touch without hurting myself were the berries, and they were often coyly hidden behind brambly canes. I'm talking Sleeping Beauty's castle here, people, surrounded by a moat of thorns.

Soon after I started picking, I noticed that wherever a thorn scored my hand, it puffed up and itched like scratches one might receive from a cat. I tried to be more careful, but I soon started to feel like Harry Potter in the the Lestrange's Gringotts vault...the more I tried not to touch any thorns, the more scratched me. I had little itchy puffy pocks all over my hands, and I could feel more developing on my legs where the thorns poked right through the denim. When I could stand it no longer, I grabbed Kismet and hurried home, where I washed off my arms thoroughly...most of the swelling has gone down, but the back of my right hand is still puffy and hot. It was stuck several times, so I'm hoping nothing is still caught under my skin.

But! It was worth it. An hour of prickings was more than worth the two pounds of blackberries I managed to score. Organic, sun-ripened blackberries, I might add. They'd be all of twenty dollars and more at the store. I'm planning on taking some re-enacting this weekend (Jeff and I are invading Williamsburg with Lord Cornwallis' army, again), and if anyone asks, they're lawyers. And if anyone asks WHY, I'll just show them my battle scarred wrists.

Huzzah for free fruit!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's Hot

Guess what I'm thinking about...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Moving Boxes

I am slowly packing up my apartment, taking it piece by piece over to Jeff's house...slightly embarassed by the amount of stuff that I've managed to accumulate in two years. Most of it is books, and, surprisingly, fabric. (A few weeks ago one of the ladies at work was tasked to clean house, and all the garbage bags of fabric scraps she was tasked to throw away instead went into my collection.)

Some of the things are tossed into boxes with barely an aside: the table cloth I bought to cover up an ugly table, to cover yet another ugly table, bath salts (bought with hopes that I would have time to give myself pedicures and as yet, unopened), the copper-bottomed pots I fished out of the dumpster the first week I lived in this apartment. And there are some things I wrap carefully. The salt and pepper shaker that I bought in Paris and nearly left on the train, a price sticker still affixed to the bottom. My Nelsoniana collection, rum bottle, figurines and watch, which has long since stopped. Pictures of my friends and family still adorn the walls, they'll be the last to come down and the first to go back up. I'm proud to say I have a big pile of things to give away or donate...not nearly big enough, but good for me. And my giant suitcase, pressed into service only because it is an empty thing I can stuff my stuff into. It's too big now to to carry on a plane. I can remember dragging it up the steps at Victoria Station, piggybacked by my smaller Samsonite, a stranger pausing to help me carry it up the stairs.

I am nervous about moving to Jeff's house. Not about the house itself--a glorious home nestled on the James River, newly renovated (still in the midst of renovations, to be honest) a box made out of light, with appropriate spaces for things. No longer will my jug of windshield washer fluid sit cheek-by-jowl with my Pussar's rum. Now I will have room to set up not only my sewing machine, but also my computer, my printer, I will have the silence to think, the space to pace, and a fridge where all the distracting snacks are mine. What I am nervous about is living in a small town. Williamsburg is small--but with its transient, wealthy tourist population, there is still something that passes for nightlife, there are places where one can get sushi and see art-house cinema (not that I've done much of either lately). Smithfield (yes, as in ham) is a tiny community, slowly moving out of the farm-town phase, into the romantic B&B phase, the antique-store phase, the tea-shop and art gallery phase. I do love a touristy town, but even Smithfield might be too small for me.

And then again there's the fact that I will know no one...except for Jeff. I've already told him we must make it a priority to get involved in this community, either volunteering, going to church or starting a Friday-night banjo group. Whatever. It's a strange move this time, still having the same job, keeping the same friends but yet moving to a new place. I miss my old friends more than ever seems like its been a long time since I've had people in my life I could call on twenty minutes notice and go out for a beer with...or better yet, walk in the front door and assume the people standing in the kitchen were waiting for me so they could go out.

Still, I'm more excited than anything. The prospect of getting out of this dank, dark apartment, away from toddlers and shouting footy fans is more exhilarating than the thought of once again being in a place where I don't know anyone. I will be living near my favourite element and watching the osprey chicks grow up as we finishing the painting and get the pictures hung up once more. And I can finally throw the laundry in the wash and work on that masterpiece while I'm waiting for it to finish before hanging it on a line outside to dry.

So I guess I better get back to addition to moving sometime next week, Jeff and I are also invading Williamsburg this weekend as part of the British Army...I have to wash up some petticoats and get out my beanpot. I won't be cooking, but I might have to "raid" the farmer's market this Saturday...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Weddings are Fun

I had a great time in Wisconsin. Everytime I go to a wedding, I always say "that was the best" or "I had the most fun at your wedding, EVAR" when, really, it's only because that particular wedding was the most recent. The other exciting part about the week was introducing Jeff to my parents. Everyone seemed to like one another...which was a relief...although I think he spent more time with my family than I did. Good thing he's a shutterbug, because now I have lots of pictures of Lilybet. She has CURLS, ya'll. And as soon as I can borrow Jeff's camera and plug it into my Mac I will show them to you.

Meanwhile, here are some photos I nicked off of Facebook...

We got into town on Wednesday, and after introducing Jeff to my parents and cheescurds, I abandoned him to go out with the ladies of the wedding party. We started at a pottery place, decorating mugs for Sara's kitchen...along for the ride was the daughter of the bride and the son of the other bridesmaid, who took advantage of the fact the paint was non-toxic.

After that we ditched the kiddies and headed over to Margarita's, where the bachelorette party got started in earnest...

...But we didn't stay out too late, since the moms had to get their little ones to bed, and there were still centerpieces to arrange and bouquets to tie.

The next day dawned grey and dreary. "If I hear one more person tell me it's good luck to have rain on your wedding day, I'm going to slap them," growled the bride, as she gaze out the hotel room window, her perfectly coiffed hair falling over her shoulder, looking like a Victorian poetess. We kept assuring her it was going to stop, but the thunderstorm that rolled through right before we left for the ceremony was not assuaging her fears. But by the time we got to Apple Creek Inn, it had slowed to a drizzle...then stopped...and then the sun gradually started coming out. By the time we were taking pictures, the sun had almost dried the grass, and by the time the ceremony started, Nicki was wishing she had remembered to bring sunscreen, and cursing the fact she was wearing her good shoes on spongy grass. (oh well. No one was looking at me. They were all looking at the flower girl.)

The wedding party...

And Mr. & Mrs. Clark.

Sara had overprepared for the reception, since there were about a thousand kids running around...that's just as well, since most of the adults also wanted a colouring book and a glowing necklace. I ended up wearing several chair decorations, made for me by Jeff. The best part of the reception had to be having someone to dance with. And when he wasn't up for it, there were thousands of kids running are always good for the dance floor.

Also, there was a chocolate fountain, which they brought out after most of the kids had left, so it was up to me to eat as much as possible and smear the rest over adults standing nearby.

That's right, ladies, he also dances.

Saturday I got to spend with mom, dad, Peter, LilyBug and Jeff. We took a ride up to Door County. Mother Nature, having granted Sara's prayers for nice weather for an outdoor wedding, was not about to listen to my pleas for the same so we could go boating. But we drove up through the Door, stopping for more cheese curds and Wilson's root beer, hiking to the top of Eagle Tower at Peninsula State Park. Jeff was dilligent about taking photos...I'll put them up here when I can steal them off his camera...Saturday night we had a traditional Wisconsin brat fry, with Mom's award-winning potato salad and a Point beer for me. It was so good and so relaxing to be back in Wisconsin, if only for a couple days. I can't wait to take Jeff there again...this time for some Up North time and a boatride...

Monday, June 07, 2010

Here I go again...

Last Friday I wore my bronze, t-strap high heels, to try to get the hang of them again. Upon finding out that I was "practising" for a wedding last week, most of the women at work were eager to compare my life to the movie "27 Dresses," with Katherine Heigel. I have not seen this movie. I don't have to.

This will be the third wedding I've stood up for in the last year and a half. I am happy to do it, and have had no problems with any of the brides or any of their choices regarding the wedding party, locations, colours, etc etc etc. No, what I am getting snippy with is the wedding mega-machine that dictates people must do These Things on their Special Day or they will Regret it FOREVERRRRR. Most of this modern "etiquette" is actually made up bullpoopies that the wedding magazine mega-industry has to keep pumping out so they have something to cram in between the pages of hideously expensive ads for wedding dresses. It's enough to keep a girl single forever.

The latest target of my ire is David's Bridal, who completely feeds off of this notion that all brides want their wedding party to be co-ordinated to within an inch of its life. Not only can you now get dresses and tuxes at David's Bridal, but they can also help you co-ordinate the invitations, plan your honeymoon, send out gift registrations, arrange hair and makeup the Day Of, and help your guests work together so no one shows up in the same gown (the horror). They will also sell you dresses for prom, which is a whole other rant. The problem with David's Bridal is that it is expensive. It takes advantage of people who do not understand that perfectly lovely gowns and bridesmaid ensembles can be found just about anywhere. Photos on the walls show bridal parties of six or more maids, plus groomsmen and assorted children. I know they're advertising. But seriously, who has six bridesmaids these days?

For this wedding, I was asked to go to David's Bridal, and I must admit I was fairly happy with the selection. I was ignored for the first twenty minutes I was in the store, allowing me to shop unmolested--I studied the poster with all their current fashions--picked out the dress I wanted, tried it on and was out the store fifteen minutes later. The shop associates seems staggered that I knew what I wanted. There were other people in the store--one young bride with her mom and grandma, all sniffling everytime she came out of the dressing room with a different dress on, another group of girls trying to find something they "all could wear" (not hard when your entire wedding party is a size zero). They were so cute when I mentioned this is my third wedding in a're all twenty-two ladies, just you wait. But I'm not here to have the Bridal Store Experience. I want to look nice and support the bride and groom at the beginning of their married life together. That's all. I don't even feel comfortable shopping with other people when I'm just buying regular clothes!

When I went back to get my dress (no off the rack for David's Bridal--everything is special ordered), the women were astonished that I didn't want to try it on. "Suppose it needs...alterations?!" they twittered. I was not game for their brand of sales up-manship. "...I work as a tailor for Colonial Williamsburg," I said through gritted teeth. "If there's anything wrong with it, I can fix it." "Oh," they said, looking disappointed as a fifty-dollar alteration fee disappeared into thin air.

The dress I tried on fit me like a glove, and so does this one. It has everything I like in a dress: a flowy hemline, not too clingy, neckline and armseyes high enough to wear a real bra, no need for expensive undergarments... Except for the fact that the v-neck in the back vees just a little too deeply, so that you can see the top of my bra strap. I fixed that problem today--well, two birds with one stone actually. This dress also has--had-pockets. Pockets! On a dress! Why! Oh yes, I am going to ruin the perfect lines of this dress by shoving my camera, cellphone and wallet in there. ARG. So I fixed that problem by cutting out the pockets and then fixed the neckline problem by making a little "v" from the pocket fabric and stitching it into the lining of the dress. I'm goooood.

So the dress is ready, and the bridesmaid will be packed as soon as she stops procrastinating by updating her blog. I'm looking forward to going home and seeing some old friends from high school. Our ten-year high school graduation reunion is at the end of the month...I would much rather catch up with people at a wedding reception. It's hard to believe it's been ten years, and that everyone is getting married and having babies. But then, as I reflect on the three dresses hanging in my closet, I guess it's not that hard to believe. I'm glad this will be the last wedding for awhile though. The next one I stand up in will be my own.

And I'm not wearing white, either.