Archive for January, 2011

Mother of the Bride, Chapter 9
January 28, 2011

In all of the wedding cake, hope is the sweetest of plums.
— Douglas Jerrold 

Five months out, the wedding momentum is building as we check important items off the to-do list. Since the last installment (, we have booked the reception band, decided on a cake baker, determined the rehearsal dinner caterer, shopped for invitations, honed down the guest list, and most exciting of all, had the first dress fitting!   

Our trusty coordinator, Joyce has been holding our hands through the process; she knows the right questions to ask, and makes really good suggestions. She recommended that we try a local cake baker named Susie Edwards, and we loved her! No nonsense, knowledgeable, happy to oblige our ideas, creative and easy to work with. She offered a plate full of cake samples, almond, white, Italian cream, butter, dark chocolate and milk chocolate. All were yummy. Selecting a design was a little more problematic, given her amazing portfolio, but guided by a provided photo, she nailed down an estimate that fits nicely into our budget. 

We’re really excited about the band for the reception! I predict some lively dancing to the sounds of The Swatchmen out of San Antonio. Their specialty is 80’s dance music; interestingly enough, that’s the genre that Shannon and Kat love. I am grateful, because I love that kind of music, too! 

Shopping for invitations was quite eye opening, with a bewildering array of options: paper, font, color, double envelopes, lining, enclosure cards, wording and assorted other bells and whistles… don’t forget the postage stamps (two per invitation). Whew! How happy we will be when those invitations go in the mailbox. But wait, the lady said I should hand cancel them at the post office so that the stamp doesn’t get lines all over it. Really? Does anyone else do that?    

Now that we are a little more educated in the subject of invitation options, we will be better able to make an informed decision next week as we meet with our preferred stationer. Mary is a friend from church who has helped many a bride select the perfect one; she’s known Shannon for years, and is delighted to help with this important detail. 

But the most fun was the initial dress fitting at the bridal gallery. Previously, Shannon had tried on the sample dresses there at the store, with a bunch of clamps to tuck her into it. But this time, it was HER dress, sized to fit, which it did very well! With a few nips and tucks, plus hemming and making the bustle, Shannon’s dress will be perfect on her special day. 

This week also brought an appointment with a cantor who will be co-officiating the service with our pastor. Both Shannon and Kat were very enthusiastic about his views and ideas about how to make it a balanced interfaith wedding. Soon they will attend a pre-marital counseling session at our church, which will help guide them through the wedding and beyond. 

Next week, we’ll visit with our organist to discuss the music for the ceremony; Shannon has some specific pieces in mind, and we know that Rob will be able to accommodate her; he is a musical genius! 

Down the road, we need to nail down a number of other details, meet with the photographer, the director of catering at the reception venue, etc. etc. etc.

So far, we are really having fun on this journey… I am glad about that, because it could be absolutely overwhelming if I let it be so. I credit Joyce for keeping us focused, but also serene and confident that we are on the right track. 

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Mother of the Bride chronicles!


Church Pants
January 20, 2011

I’m like every other woman: a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear: So I wear jeans. 
-Cameron Diaz 

My favorite old blue jeans have now turned into my “church pants”. What are church pants? They are “Holey, Holey, Holey”! They are also nice and comfortable, and fit just right. 

In the olden days there were no such things as “designer jeans”. Denim was a workhorse fabric, and you could select between Levis, Wranglers or Lee. I’m sure there must have been others, but those were the big 3. I always opted for Levis, which I would buy at the old Warp and Woof Clothiers in the Rice Village (it was located right across Times from the Beautique Spa, which used to be a “Beauty Salon”). 

(An aside: Once when Joel was very small, his mom had gone to get her hair done. The phone rang at home, and he answered it. He then told the person on the other end that his mother was at the “saloon”.) 

Warp & Woof was a great hippie/surfer shop, and I loved going there to spend my babysitting money (needless to say, I wasn’t a client of Beautique back in those days). When one shopped for jeans there, you picked your size by your waist and inseam measurements, and you could select straight leg, boot cut or bell bottom style. The waist line was just what it meant. It was at your waist. 

The blue jeans from W & W were indigo blue and stiff as a board. You had to “break them in” by washing and wearing them until they faded and softened. But they lasted FOREVER. Well made and sturdy, blue jeans of old were kept until they got a hole (usually in the knee), and then I might have still worn them a la hippie, or cut them off to make the best shorts. 

Now? There is no comparison. In addition to the plethora of blue jean brands sold at every clothing retail store, there are a zillion options and styles of Levis from which to choose. All seem flimsy by comparison, and they do not last nearly as long, usually developing holes around the pockets. Is it because they are already “broken in”? My new ones are soft and faded already. 

(A second aside: I don’t want to get into the outsourcing issue here, but it is the proverbial elephant in the room. There is absolutely no comparison in the quality of the old Levis to the current ones.) 

Low rise/slim/bell bottom? Relaxed fit/medium/boot cut? Regular/long/straight leg? Mid rise/medium/boot cut? Figure out what style you want and pick your size from the standard women’s sizes, 0-12. When I find one that fits well, I buy four of them! Which is what I did the week before Christmas, to make sure that Santa got just the right ones. Levis, of course. Santa shops at Academy Sports and Outdoors, which just happens to be my favorite store (this is pathetic, I know).   

So now that I have these new jeans, what is to become of my church pants? They get filed a little farther back in the closet to be worn, ironically, not to church but just around the house on days that I have no particular place to go. A perfect day for perfect pants, no matter how “Holey” they are. 

Something tells me that I won’t be nominated to be on Houston’s Best Dressed List this year (or any other one, for that matter)…. alas, alas for me.

Slipping Between the Sheets
January 14, 2011

It is better to wear out one’s shoes than one’s sheets.                             – Old Italian Proverb

Last weekend I went to a shower for a bride-to-be whom I’ve had the pleasure of watching grow up in our church. The shower had a clever theme, which was “Round the Clock”. Each guest was assigned an hour of the day, and she was to select a gift that would be pertinent for that time. 

The time listed on my invitation was 6 a.m. I don’t know about you, but with rare exception, I am asleep at that time of day. So I went to the appointed store to get her some bed linens. 

Catherine had registered for a luxurious set of pima cotton sheets with a 630 thread count. In red. Oh! They were so soft. I can just imagine how comfy they will be, and was delighted to purchase them for her. Because once you actually get married, unless you have all the money in the world, then you just buy the set that’s on special sale. So go for the good stuff to begin your married life together! 

But someday down the road, you will replace these soft, luxurious sheets with another set. And that first set will get tucked away to begin its new life as, maybe a drop cloth for an elementary school painting project. Or a backdrop for a film project, like maybe a science fiction story on Mars (the red planet, get it?). But the most likely end for your old sheets will be as a cover for the tender plants outside when the temps drop below freezing. 

It doesn’t happen often here in Houston, but when it does, out they come- the odd, assorted rainbow of sheets that take me back through the history of my marriage. I can look at each one (including curtains and shower curtains that I made from sheets) and recall each bed and bathroom that they graced. 

When we were first married, we lived in a funky old quadruplex on Cole Ave. in Dallas. The bedroom had two walls of windows, which I covered with bamboo blinds from Pier One and then made curtains out of brown sheets with a white floral design. The sheets on the bed matched and the comforter had a brown/white graphic design. All were wedding gifts. 

I’m looking outside now and see the remnants of that first set of sheets. They are currently covering a rubber plant. There is green spray paint all over them, from the time I spray painted the cast iron table and chairs. Oh look, there is the green and white striped shower curtain that I made for the bathroom in the first house we bought. The bathroom was tiled in pale green, edged in dark green, and with our stained glass window in there, I thought it looked pretty classy! 

There, covering another pot, is a small remnant of a sheet that was a window cover in another bathroom in a house twice removed from our first one. I wonder what happened to the matching shower curtain? 

But the final example of  what happens to all good sheets is the one that covers the flowers in the front bed. It is an old white sheet that belonged to my mother in law; don’t tell her what we did to it. This sheet became the backdrop of a film made by Shannon in elementary school. Consider the times and don’t laugh at our crude attempts at film making. Can you see the large black and red lettering on the sheet? The words say, “THE END”. 

Someday, Catherine, you will look back and remember your new, soft red sheets and smile at all the subsequent adventures they will have as your life unfolds. Enjoy them for their intended purpose in the meantime, and try not to drool too much on your pillow!

The 1963 Sugar Bowl
January 6, 2011

Woooooooo. Pig. Sooie! Razorbacks!                                                                             – a proper hog call 

Watching Arkansas play in the Sugar Bowl this week brought back memories of another Sugar Bowl, long, long ago, in 1963 in which the Razorbacks were playing against Mississippi. For the reasons listed below, I was privileged to go to this football game with my dad on New Year’s Day. 

Mom wrote, “I think she (Carol) wrote you that she got to go to the Sugar Bowl game. We ended up with tickets, as usual. Ray III was to go with Billy – so that left big Ray with two tickets- and I had already promised to let Kathy C. visit with Tetot while her folks went to the game – and Nell was to stay with Dee- so that left Carol – and she was happy to be asked. Ray said he couldn’t have asked for a pal who was more fun and she thoroughly enjoyed the game and brought home a Razorback flag!” 

What a special memory that was for a 7 year old to have some one on one time with her dad, especially because she was one of six children, and having his undivided attention was very special. 

 I rooted for Arkansas for the sole reason that we had visited our friends the Petersons at their lake home on Bull Shoals Lake a few years prior. Dad bought me a triangular pennant to wave, and I became a diehard Razorback fan. For years. 

The game took place in the old Sugar Bowl Stadium on the campus of Tulane University. It was an open air stadium, and I recall that we had seats pretty high up along the curve of the end zone. These memories are so vivid because it was such a rare and delightful occasion to have my dad all to myself. 

I loved the halftime most of all, since I didn’t really understand football at that age. The pageantry and music by the marching bands were mesmerizing to me. I’ll bet I chattered all about it for weeks. 

Alas, my team didn’t win the game; Mississippi won 17-3. Fast forward to 2011, and the end result was the same in this year’s game, except that it was Ohio State who bested the Razorbacks 31-26. Still, this year’s contest was an exciting game, and unlike my uneducated 7 year old self,  I actually enjoyed watching the action on the field. 

It wasn’t until my older brother played organized football that I finally figured out how football worked; I was in the 7th grade when I had that epiphany. Before I finally understood the down system, I never could figure out why one team would willingly punt the ball to the other! By the time Ray graduated from college, I was a real pro at football watching. 

Although I don’t follow any particular team, and really don’t care who wins most games, I do on occasion sit down with Joel or gather with friends to watch a special game. We all whoop and holler when the action is exciting. 

But all things being equal, I STILL like the halftime shows more than the games.  I guess I’m just a sucker for a marching band…  Hope they show the Aggie Band at the Cotton Bowl game on Friday!